We investigated the efficacy of self-complementary hairpin RNA (hpRNA) expression to induce RNA silencing in the roots and nodules of model legume Lotus japonicus, using hairy root transformation mediated by Agrobacterium rhizogenes. Transgenic lines that express beta-glucuronidase (GUS) by constitutive or nodule-specific promoters were supertransformed by infection of A. rhizogenes harboring constructs for the expression of hpRNAs with sequences complementary to the GUS coding region. GUS activity in more than 60% of the hairy roots was decreased or silenced almost completely. Silencing of the GUS gene was also observed in symbiotic nodules formed on hairy roots in both early and late stages of nodule organogenesis. These results indicate that transient RNA silencing by hairy root transformation provides a powerful tool for loss-of-function analyses of genes that function in roots and root nodules.