The effects of osmotic stress (polyethylene glycol, PEG 6000) and exogenous ascorbic acid (ASC) on abscisic acid (ABA), some osmolytes (proline and polyamine), and gene expression of polyamine metabolic enzymes arginine decarboxylase (ADC), S-adenosylmethionine decarboxylase (SAMDC) and polyamine oxidase (PAO1) were assessed in the leaves of Zea mays L. seedlings. ASC (0.1 mM) was hydroponically applied to detached maize seedlings. ASC application scavenged endogenous hydrogen peroxide level and ameliorated leaf water status and stomatal conductance under osmotic stress. Lipid peroxidation, ABA and osmolyte accumulation were mitigated by ASC treatment. For osmolytes, the alleviation of polyamine accumulation was more obvious than that of the proline. Therefore, gene expressions of polyamine metabolic enzymes were investigated. Compared to control seedlings, down-regulation of SAMDC and ADC gene expressions were determined in ASC ? PEG-applied seedlings while PAO1 gene expression increased. These results indicated that exogenous ASC influenced polyamine metabolism. ASC application under the osmotic stress ameliorated osmotic solute levels and ABA concentration in maize.