Although many studies have been conducted on seeds with a water-impermeable seed or fruit coat (physical dormancy), the primary site of water entry into these seeds after dormancy-breaking treatments is still controversial. Thus, the role of lens, hilum, micropyle and extrahilar regions in water uptake of seeds treated to break physical dormancy was examined in Vigna oblongifolia and Sesbania sesban (Fabaceae) following pretreatment with sulphuric acid and hot water. Morphology of seed surfaces in treated versus non-treated seeds of both species was examined with scanning electron microscopy. Most seeds of V. oblongifolia first cracked in the hilum when pretreated with sulphuric acid, but they cracked in both the hilum and extrahilar regions when pretreated with hot water. However, in S. sesban seeds, a crack formed only in the lens following either acid scarification or hot-water treatments, and the seeds imbibed water only through the lens. These results indicate that the primary site of water entry into seeds following physical dormancy break can vary with species and treatments. Slow, early imbibition via the hilum, and subsequent rapid imbibition via the lens, may not be detected unless seeds are monitored for several days. Time allowed for imbibition studies may, at least in part, explain various interpretations about the role of the lens in physical dormancy reported in the literature.