We have investigated the chromatin structure of 5S rDNA, a heterochromatic pericentromeric tandemly repeated family, at 2, 3, 4 and 5 days post-germination. Our results revealed a large-scale reorganization of 5S rDNA chromatin that occurs during the first days of development. Unexpectedly, there is a decondensation followed by a ‘re’condensation of 5S rDNA chromatin, to obtain almost mature nuclei 5 d post-germination. The reorganization of 5S rDNA chromatin is accompanied by a rapid and active demethylation of 5S rDNA mediated by the ROS1 (repressor of silencing 1) demethylase, whereas the plant-specific RNA polymerase IV (Pol IV) is essential to the 5S chromatin ‘re’condensation. In conclusion, Pol IV and ROS1 collaborate to unlock the 5S rDNA chromatin inherited from the seed, and establish adult features.