The nicotianamine synthase (NAS) enzymes catalyze the formation of nicotianamine (NA), a non-proteinogenic amino acid involved in iron homeostasis. We undertook the functional characterization of AtNAS4, the fourth member of the Arabidopsis thaliana NAS gene family. A mutant carrying a T-DNA insertion in AtNAS4 (atnas4), as well as lines overexpressing AtNAS4 both in the atnas4 and the wild-type genetic backgrounds, were used to decipher the role of AtNAS4 in NA synthesis, iron homeostasis and the plant response to iron deficiency or cadmium supply. We showed that AtNAS4 is an important source for NA. Whereas atnas4 had normal growth in iron-sufficient medium, it displayed a reduced accumulation of ferritins and exhibited a hypersensitivity to iron deficiency. This phenotype was rescued in the complemented lines. Under iron deficiency, atnas4 displayed a lower expression of the iron uptake-related genes IRT1 and FRO2 as well as a reduced ferric reductase activity. Atnas4 plants also showed an enhanced sensitivity to cadmium while the transgenic plants overexpressing AtNAS4 were more tolerant. Collectively, our data, together with recent studies, support the hypothesis that AtNAS4 displays an important role in iron distribution and is required for proper response to iron deficiency and to cadmium supply. Copyright © 2013 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.