The first step in flower development is the generation of a floral meristem by the inflorescence meristem. We have analyzed how this process is affected by mutant alleles of the Arabidopsis gene LEAFY. We show that LEAFY interacts with another floral control gene, APETALA1, to promote the transition from inflorescence to floral meristem. We have cloned the LEAFY gene, and, consistent with the mutant phenotype, we find that LEAFY RNA is expressed strongly in young flower primordia. LEAFY expression procedes expression of the homeotic genes AGAMOUS and APETALA3, which specify organ identify within the flower. Furthermore, we demonstrate that LEAFY is the Arabidopsis homolog of the FLORICAULA gene, which controls floral meristem identity in the distantly related species Antirrhinum majus.