Several populations with different metal tolerance, uptake and root-to-shoot transport are known for the metal hyperaccumulator plant Thlaspi caerulescens. In this study, genes differentially expressed under various Zn exposures were identified from the shoots of two T. caerulescens accessions (calaminous and non-calaminous) using fluorescent differential display RT-PCR. cDNA fragments from 16 Zn-responsive genes, including those encoding metallothionein (MT) type 2 and type 3, MRP-like transporter, pectin methylesterase (PME) and Ole e 1-like gene as well as several unknown genes, were eventually isolated. The full-length MT2 and MT3 sequences differ from those previously isolated from other Thlaspi accessions, possibly representing new alleles or isoforms. Besides the differential expression in Zn exposures, the gene expression was dependent on the accession. Thlaspi homologues of ClpP protease and MRP transporter were induced at high Zn concentrations. MT2 and PME were expressed at higher levels in the calaminous accession. The MTs and MRP transporter expressed in transgenic yeasts were capable of conferring Cu and Cd tolerance, whereas the Ole e 1-like gene enhanced toxicity to these metals. The MTs increased yeast intracellular Cd content. As no significant differences were found between Arabidopsis and Thlaspi MTs, they apparently do not differ in their capacity to bind metals. However, the higher levels of MT2 in the calaminous accession may contribute to the Zn-adapted phenotype. © 2006 Springer-Verlag.