Despite increasing reports that CCCH zinc finger proteins function in plant development and stress responses, the functions and molecular aspects of many CCCH zinc finger proteins remain uncharacterized. Here, we characterized the biological and molecular functions of AtC3H17, a unique Arabidopsis gene encoding a non-tandem CCCH zinc finger protein. AtC3H17 was ubiquitously expressed throughout the life cycle of Arabidopsis plants and their organs. The rate and ratio of seed germination of atc3h17 mutants were slightly slower and lower, respectively, than those of the wild type (WT), whereas AtC3H17-overexpressing transgenic plants (OXs) showed an enhanced germination rate. atc3h17 mutant seedlings were smaller and lighter than WT seedlings while AtC3H17 OX seedlings were larger and heavier. In regulation of flowering time, atc3h17 mutants showed delayed flowering, whereas AtC3H17 OXs showed early flowering compared with the WT. In addition, overexpression of AtC3H17 affected seed development, displaying abnormalities compared with the WT. AtC3H17 protein was localized to the nucleus and showed transcriptional activation activity in yeast and Arabidopsis protoplasts. The N-terminal region of AtC3H17, containing a conserved EELR-like motif, was necessary for transcriptional activation activity, and the two conserved glutamate residues in the EELR-like motif played an important role in transcriptional activation activity. Real-time PCR and transactivation analyses showed that AtC3H17 might be involved in seed development via transcriptional activation of OLEO1, OLEO2 and CRU3. Our results suggest that AtC3H17 has pleiotropic effects on vegetative development such as seed germination and seedling growth, flowering and seed development, and functions as a nuclear transcriptional activator in Arabidopsis.