Late embryogenesis abundant (LEA) proteins are associated with desiccation tolerance in anhydrobiotic organisms. The larvae of an African chironomid, Polypedilum vanderplanki, are able to withstand almost complete desiccation during which they enter a state of suspended animation. Here, we developed an EST database from desiccating larvae and isolated three cDNAs encoding proteins (PvLEA1, PvLEA2, and PvLEA3) with highly significant matches to Group 3 LEA proteins. Both mRNA and protein levels of all three examples were increased by dehydration stress imposed by either desiccation or hypersalinity, and one protein, PvLEA2, is likely to be post-translationally processed into smaller molecules. This first description of LEA protein genes in arthropods suggests that this protein family is widespread throughout invertebrate phyla, and that animals, plants, and microorganisms possess similar mechanisms for combating dehydration stress.