Soil seed banks play prominent ecological and evolutionary roles linking past, present and future plant population and community structure and dynamics. They are important contributors in conservation and vegetation regeneration in arid regions. The seed bank methodology, and main subjects, such as character of size, distribution patterns, dynamics, relationship with the above-ground vegetation, age structure and influence factors in arid regions are reviewed in detail. The research trends of soil seed banks in arid regions are prospected and summed up as follows: (1) how microhabitats affect the distribution patterns of the soil seed bank in different ecosystem; (2) the dynamics of relationships between soil seed bank and above-ground vegetation; (3) the dynamics of soil seed banks, especially the persistent soil seed bank, in deteriorated ecosystem; (4) how the influencing factors, such as initial seed density, sand burial depth and hydrological process affect soil seed banks in arid regions; (5) the relationships among soil seed bank, germination and juvenile performance of different populations. And some hot topics about soil seed bank research are presented in China, which include: (1) the primary characteristics of soil seed banks in different ecosystem, mainly concerning species composition, size character, distribution patterns, spatiotemporal dynamics; (2) the influences of microhabitats and water regime on relationships between soil seed bank and the above-ground vegetation; (3) how enclosure, grazing and hydrological heterogeneity affect soil seed bank; (4) the intrinsic mechanism of soil seed bank and its ecological application.