Vegetative phase change in Arabidopsis is regulated by miR156, a microRNA that promotes the expression of the juvenile phase and represses the expression of the adult phase. miR156 is expressed at a very high level early in shoot development and then decreases, leading to the onset of the adult phase. To determine the source of the factors that regulate vegetative phase change, we examined the effect of root and leaf ablation on the timing of this transition. Ablation of the root system or cotyledons had no effect on the timing of vegetative phase change, but ablation of leaf primordia delayed this transition in a miR156-dependent fashion. This treatment produced an increase in the overall abundance of miR156, which was attributable to an increase in the transcription of some, but not all, of the miR156 genes in Arabidopsis, and decreased the expression of SPL genes regulated by miR156. miR156 levels were also elevated by leaf ablation in Nicotiana benthamiana and in rejuvenating shoot apices of maize cultured in vitro. We conclude that vegetative phase change is initiated by a signal(s) produced by leaf primordia, which acts by repressing the transcription of specific members of the miR156 gene family.