The transition from the prostrate growth of ancestral wild rice (O. rufipogon Griff.) to the erect growth of Oryza sativa cultivars was one of the most critical events in rice domestication. This evolutionary step importantly improved plant architecture and increased grain yield. Here we find that prostrate growth of wild rice from Yuanjiang County in China is controlled by a semi-dominant gene, PROG1 (PROSTRATE GROWTH 1), on chromosome 7 that encodes a single Cys(2)-His(2) zinc-finger protein. prog1 variants identified in O. sativa disrupt the prog1 function and inactivate prog1 expression, leading to erect growth, greater grain number and higher grain yield in cultivated rice. Sequence comparison shows that 182 varieties of cultivated rice, including 87 indica and 95 japonica cultivars from 17 countries, carry identical mutations in the prog1 coding region that may have become fixed during rice domestication.