Seeds of Sisymbrium officinale display physiological dormancy and require nitrate to germinate. Rupture of the testa precedes radicle protrusion through the endosperm (germination sensu stricto). While both endosperm rupture and testa rupture (TR) required nitrate, endosperm rupture was fully inhibited by abscisic acid (ABA) but TR was not inhibited. The gibberellic acid (GA)-synthesis inhibitor paclobutrazol prevented TR, which was reverted by exogenous GA4 but not by nitrate. The orientation of TR was transverse, which prompted the question whether seeds elongate prior to radicle protrusion, concurrent with an increase in water content. Between 9 h and 1 d no increase in length or water content was observed. During incubation in ABA the length of imbibed seeds without TR did not increase between 1 and 5 d, whereas nitrate added to ABA induced TR and a 94% increase in length. At the same time the water content of seeds without TR increased by 18%, while the water content of seeds with TR increased by 38%. Length and water content were correlated in a single-seed analysis for seeds with TR, but not for seeds without TR. Increased length was also observed in Arabidopsis seeds with nitrate-induced TR. These results indicate that prior to endosperm rupture dormancy release by nitrate is accompanied by TR, seed elongation and an increase in water content. A new multiphasic model is proposed for the imbibition curve, where the second phase of the classical triphasic curve is split into three sub-phases, of which phases IIB and IIC are associated with TR.