Seed component structures were grouped into maternal and offspring (embryo and endosperm) tissues to characterize a dormancy quantitative trait locus (QTL) for tissue-specific function using a marker-assisted genetic approach. The approach was devised to test if genotypic/allelic frequencies of a marker tightly linked to the QTL deviate from Mendelian expectations in germinated and nongerminated subpopulations derived from a segregation population of partially after-ripened seeds and was applied to the dormancy QTL qSD12 and qSD7-1 in a nearly isogenic background of rice. Experimental results unambiguously demonstrated that qSD12 functions in the offspring tissue(s) and suggested that qSD7-1 may control dormancy through the maternal tissues. These experiments also provide the first solid evidence that an offspring tissue-imposed dormancy gene contributes to the segregation distortion in a mapping population developed from partially after-ripened seeds and, in part, to the germination heterogeneity of seeds from hybrid plants. Offspring and maternal tissue-imposed dormancy genes express in very early and late stages of the life cycle, respectively, and interact to provide the species with complementary adaptation strategies. The qSD12 locus was narrowed to the region of approximately 600 kbp on a high-resolution map to facilitate cloning and marker-assisted selection of the major dormancy gene.