Seed plants with compound leaves constitute a polyphyletic group, but studies of diverse taxa show that genes of the class 1 KNOTTED-LIKE HOMEOBOX (KNOX1) family are often involved in compound leaf development. This suggests that knox1 genes have been recruited on multiple occasions during angiosperm evolution (Bharathan et al. in Science 296:1858-1860, 2002). In agreement with this, we demonstrate that the simple leaf of dandelion (Taraxacum officinale Web.) can be converted into a compound leaf by the constitutive expression of heterologous knox1 genes. Dandelion is a rosette plant of the family Asteraceae, characterised by simple leaves with deeply lobed margins and endogenous knox1 gene expression. Transgenic dandelion plants constitutively expressing the barley (Hordeum vulgare L.) hooded gene (bkn3, barley knox3) or the related bkn1 gene, developed compound leaves featuring epiphyllous rosettes. We discuss these results in the context of two current models of compound leaf formation.