Cereals possess a fibrous root system that is mainly composed of crown roots that emerge postembryonically from the nodes of the stem. Because the root system is not directly accessible and consequently difficult to study, it remains a target for breeders to improve the ability of plants to exploit the mineral and water resources of the soil. Breeding for root architecture necessitates identifying the genetic determinants of root development. This research is now underway in cereals, particularly in rice, the monocot model species. In this review, we examine recent data identifying genes that govern root development in cereals, such as ARL1/CRL1 in rice and RTCS in maize which encodes a conserved lateral organ boundary domain transcription factor involved in crown root initiation and development in response to auxin. Finally, we discuss the detection and validation of root development quantitative trait loci.