The use of abscisic acid (ABA) as an in vitro prehardening treatment to enhance ex vitro acclimatization of Stage III Aronia arbutifolia plantlets was explored. Effects of ABA (0-4 mg·liter-1) pretreatment on ex vitro shoot growth, leaf carbon assimilation (LCA) and nonstructural carbohydrate content were evaluated during plantlet acclimatization under two photosynthetic photon flux (PPF) levels (450 and 650 μmol·m-2·s-1). Stage III plantlets rooted in the presence of ABA exhibited both shoot growth inhibition and transient negative LCA rates at time of transfer ex vitro. Regardless of treatment, maximum LCA rates were achieved by day 20 post-transplant. Pretreatment with ABA had no effect on stem or leaf starch content at time of transplant, however, leaf and stem soluble sugar content was higher in ABA treated plantlets than controls. Further suppression of shoot growth and alteration in the pattern of stem starch utilization occurred at the higher irradiance level. These results indicate that ABA pretreatments provide no physiological advantage that would facilitate ex vitro acclimatization of Aronia plantlets.