Abstract Five rice homeobox ( OSH) genes were overexpressed under the control of the cauliflower mosaic virus 35S promoter or the rice actin gene promoter in transgenic rice plants. Almost all of the transgenic plants showed abnormal phenotypes, which could be classified into three types according to their severity. Plants with the most severe phenotype formed only green organs, with many shoot apices on their adaxial sides. Plants with an intermediate phenotype formed bladeless leaves with normally developed leaf sheaths. Plants with a mild phenotype formed normal leaf sheaths and blades, but lacked ligules and showed diffusion of the blade–sheath boundary. The leaf structure of this phenotype was similar to that of dominant maize mutants, such as Kn1, Rs1, Lg3, and Lg4. Based on these phenotypes, we suggest that ectopic expression of the rice OSH genes interferes with the development of leaf blades and maintains leaves in less differentiated states. These results are discussed in relation to the leaf maturation schedule hypothesis (M. Freeling et al., 1992, BioEssays 14, 227–236).