With a small and sequenced genome, rice provides an excellent system for studying the genetics of cereal domestication. We conducted a quantitative trait locus (QTL) analysis of key domestication traits using an F2 population derived from a cross between the cultivated rice, Oryza sativa, and the annual wild species, O. nivara. We found that the QTL of large phenotypic effects were targeted by domestication selection for effective harvest and planting, including a reduction in seed shattering and seed dormancy and the synchronization of seed maturation. Selection for higher yield was probably responsible for the fixation of mutations at a cluster of QTL on chromosome 7 and a few other chromosomal locations that could have substantially improved plant architecture and panicle structure, resulting in fewer erect tillers and longer and more highly branched panicles in cultivated rice. In comparison with the wild perennial species, O. rufipogon, rice domestication from O. nivara would have involved QTL with a greater degree of chromosomal co-localization and required little genetic change associated with life history or mating system transitions. The genetic analyses of domestication traits with both wild relatives will open opportunities for the improvement of rice cultivars utilizing natural germplasm.