The ability of vegetative plant tissues to survive desiccation is an uncommon trait, although plants that are able to do this represent all major classes of plants. Two classes of vegetative desiccation-tolerant plants exist; those that are modified desiccation-tolerant and can only survive desiccation if drying rates are slow, and those that are fully desiccation-tolerant and can survive even rapid drying rates. Investigations into the cellular level responses of these two types of plants has lead to an understanding of the underlying mechanisms of desiccation-tolerance. The following proposed mechanisms for desiccation-tolerance are presented. Modified desiccation-tolerant plants utilize inducible cellular protection systems supplemented in part by a minor rehydration induced repair component. Fully desiccation-tolerant plants utilize a rehydration induced repair system that is complemented by a constitutive protection component. This minireview explores the evidence for these proposed mechanisms in an attempt to lay the theoretical ground work for future work in this area.