The molecular biology of flowering has been most extensively studied in the quantitative long-day plant Arabidopsis thaliana. The Arabidopsis LUMINIDEPENDENS (LD) gene encodes a potential transcriptional regulator that acts as a positive effector of flowering, at least in part through suppression of the floral inhibitor gene FLC. As an initial step to explore the conservation of the molecular mechanisms of flowering among plants of various flowering habits, and to further investigate the molecular action(s) of LD, we have identified a gene from maize (Zea mays) that is closely related to Arabidopsis LD. The major product of this gene, which we have designated ZmLD for Zea mays LUMINIDEPENDENS, contains four conserved regions that may constitute functionally important components of the LD proteins. One of these regions closely resembles the canonical homeodomain. The ZmLD gene exists as a single copy in the maize genome, and generates a major ca. 4.0 kb transcript, and a minor ca. 2.6 kb transcript that results from alternative transcriptional termination. The 4.0 kb ZmLD alpha transcript accumulated to highest levels in proliferative tissues, including the shoot apex and developing inflorescences. Expression of ZnLD alpha under control of the Arabidopsis LD promoter in transgenic Arabidopsis caused developmental defects similar to those conferred by loss-of-function mutations in a class of genes involved in maintaining the proliferative nature of the shoot, inflorescence, and floral meristems. These effects were not influenced markedly by the activities of the Arabidopsis LD or FLC genes. We consider the implications for the conservation of LD function between maize and Arabidopsis.