The Q gene is largely responsible for the widespread cultivation of wheat because it confers the free-threshing character. It also pleiotropically influences many other domestication-related traits such as glume shape and tenacity, rachis fragility, spike length, plant height, and spike emergence time. We isolated the Q gene and verified its identity by analysis of knockout mutants and transformation. The Q gene has a high degree of similarity to members of the AP2 family of transcription factors. The Q allele is more abundantly transcribed than q, and the two alleles differ for a single amino acid. An isoleucine at position 329 in the Q protein leads to an abundance of homodimer formation in yeast cells, whereas a valine in the q protein appears to limit homodimer formation. Ectopic expression analysis allowed us to observe both silencing and overexpression effects of Q. Rachis fragility, glume shape, and glume tenacity mimicked the q phenotype in transgenic plants exhibiting post-transcriptional silencing of the transgene and the endogenous Q gene. Variation in spike compactness and plant height were associated with the level of transgene transcription due to the dosage effects of Q. The q allele is the more primitive, and the mutation that gave rise to Q occurred only once leading to the world's cultivated wheats.