Symbiotic root nodules are beneficial to leguminous host plants; however, excessive nodulation damages the host because it interferes with the distribution of nutrients in the plant. To keep a steady balance, the nodulation programme is regulated systemically in leguminous hosts. Leguminous mutants that have lost this ability display a hypernodulating phenotype. Through the use of reciprocal and self-grafting studies using Lotus japonicus hypernodulating mutants, har1 (also known as sym78), we show that the shoot genotype is responsible for the negative regulation of nodule development. A map-based cloning strategy revealed that HAR1 encodes a protein with a relative molecular mass of 108,000, which contains 21 leucine-rich repeats, a single transmembrane domain and serine/threonine kinase domains. The har1 mutant phenotype was rescued by transfection of the HAR1 gene. In a comparison of Arabidopsis receptor-like kinases, HAR1 showed the highest level of similarity with CLAVATA1 (CLV1). CLV1 negatively regulates formation of the shoot and floral meristems through cell-cell communication involving the CLV3 peptide. Identification of hypernodulation genes thus indicates that genes in leguminous plants bearing a close resemblance to CLV1 regulate nodule development systemically, by means of organ-organ communication.