To ascertain whether intraspecific variability might be a source of information as regards the genetic controls underlying plant leaf morphogenesis, we analyzed variations in the architecture of vegetative leaves in a large sample of Arabidopsis thaliana natural races. A total of 188 accessions from the Arabidopsis Information Service collection were grown and qualitatively classified into 14 phenotypic classes, which were defined according to petiole length, marginal configuration, and overall lamina shape. Accessions displaying extreme and opposite variations in the above-mentioned leaf architectural traits were crossed and their F(2) progeny was found to be not classifiable into discrete phenotypic classes. Furthermore, the leaf trait-based classification was not correlated with estimates on the genetic distances between the accessions being crossed, calculated after determining variations in repeat number at 22 microsatellite loci. Since these results suggested that intraspecific variability in A. thaliana leaf morphology arises from an accumulation of mutations at quantitative trait loci (QTL), we studied a mapping population of recombinant inbred lines (RILs) derived from a Landsberg erecta-0 x Columbia-4 cross. A total of 100 RILs were grown and the third and seventh leaves of 15 individuals from each RIL were collected and morphometrically analyzed. We identified a total of 16 and 13 QTL harboring naturally occurring alleles that contribute to natural variations in the architecture of juvenile and adult leaves, respectively. Our QTL mapping results confirmed the multifactorial nature of the observed natural variations in leaf architecture.