The function of microRNAs (miRNAs) in hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs), committed progenitors, and leukemia stem cells (LSCs) is poorly understood. We show that miR-29a is highly expressed in HSC and down-regulated in hematopoietic progenitors. Ectopic expression of miR-29a in mouse HSC/progenitors results in acquisition of self-renewal capacity by myeloid progenitors, biased myeloid differentiation, and the development of a myeloproliferative disorder that progresses to acute myeloid leukemia (AML). miR-29a promotes progenitor proliferation by expediting G1 to S/G2 cell cycle transitions. miR-29a is overexpressed in human AML and, like human LSC, miR-29a-expressing myeloid progenitors serially transplant AML. Our data indicate that miR-29a regulates early hematopoiesis and suggest that miR-29a initiates AML by converting myeloid progenitors into self-renewing LSC.