RICE FLOWERING LOCUS T 1 ( RFT1/FT-L3 ) is the closest homologue of Heading date 3a ( Hd3a ), which is thought to encode a mobile flowering signal and promote floral transition under short-day(SD) conditions. RFT1 is located only 11.5 kb from Hd3a on chromosome 6. Although RFT1 RNAi plants flowered normally, double RFT1 - Hd3a RNAi plants did not flower up to 300 days after sowing (DAS), indicating that Hd3a and RFT1 are essential for flowering in rice. RFT1 expression was very low in wild-type plants, but there was a marked increase in RFT1 expression by 70 DAS in Hd3a RNAi plants, which flowered 90 DAS. H3K9 acetylation around the transcription initiation site of the RFT1 locus had increased by 70 DAS but not at 35 DAS. In the absence of Hd3a and RFT1 expression, transcription of OsMADS14 and OsMADS15 , two rice orthologues of Arabidopsis APETALA1, was strongly reduced, suggesting that they act downstream of Hd3a and RFT1 . These results indicate that Hd3a and RFT1 act as floral activators under SD conditions, and that RFT1 expression is partly regulated by chromatin modification.