'Florigen' was proposed 75 years ago to be synthesized in the leaf and transported to the shoot apex, where it induces flowering. Only recently have genetic and biochemical studies established that florigen is encoded by FLOWERING LOCUS T (FT), a gene that is universally conserved in higher plants. Nonetheless, the exact function of florigen during floral induction remains poorly understood and receptors for florigen have not been identified. Here we show that the rice FT homologue Hd3a interacts with 14-3-3 proteins in the apical cells of shoots, yielding a complex that translocates to the nucleus and binds to the Oryza sativa (Os)FD1 transcription factor, a rice homologue of Arabidopsis thaliana FD. The resultant ternary 'florigen activation complex' (FAC) induces transcription of OsMADS15, a homologue of A. thaliana APETALA1 (AP1), which leads to flowering. We have determined the 2.4 Å crystal structure of rice FAC, which provides a mechanistic basis for florigen function in flowering. Our results indicate that 14-3-3 proteins act as intracellular receptors for florigen in shoot apical cells, and offer new approaches to manipulate flowering in various crops and trees.