Abstract Basic leucine zipper proteins (bZIPs) are transcription factors that bind abscisic acid (ABA)-responsive elements (ABREs) and enable plants to withstand adverse environmental conditions. In the present study, a novel bZIP gene, ThbZIP1 was cloned from Tamarix hispida. Expression studies in T. hispida showed differential regulation of ThbZIP1 in response to treatment with NaCl, polyethylene glycol (PEG) 6000, NaHCO 3, and CdCl 2, suggesting that ThbZIP1 is involved in abiotic stress responses. To identify the physiological responses mediated by ThbZIP1, transgenic tobacco plants overexpressing exogenous ThbZIP1 were generated. Various physiological parameters related to salt stress were measured and compared between transgenic and wild type (WT) plants. Our results indicate that overexpression of ThbZIP1 can enhance the activity of both peroxidase (POD) and superoxide dismutase (SOD), and increase the content of soluble sugars and soluble proteins under salt stress conditions. These results suggest that ThbZIP1 contributes to salt tolerance by mediating signaling through multiple physiological pathways. Furthermore, ThbZIP1 confers stress tolerance to plants by enhancing reactive oxygen species (ROS) scavenging, facilitating the accumulation of compatible osmolytes, and inducing and/or enhancing the biosynthesis of soluble proteins.