Strigolactones (SLs), a newly discovered class of carotenoid-derived phytohormones, are essential for developmental processes that shape plant architecture and interactions with parasitic weeds and symbiotic arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi. Despite the rapid progress in elucidating the SL biosynthetic pathway, the perception and signalling mechanisms of SL remain poorly understood. Here we show that DWARF 53 (D53) acts as a repressor of SL signalling and that SLs induce its degradation. We find that the rice (Oryza sativa) d53 mutant, which produces an exaggerated number of tillers compared to wild-type plants, is caused by a gain-of-function mutation and is insensitive to exogenous SL treatment. The D53 gene product shares predicted features with the class I Clp ATPase proteins and can form a complex with the α/β hydrolase protein DWARF 14 (D14) and the F-box protein DWARF 3 (D3), two previously identified signalling components potentially responsible for SL perception. We demonstrate that, in a D14- and D3-dependent manner, SLs induce D53 degradation by the proteasome and abrogate its activity in promoting axillary bud outgrowth. Our combined genetic and biochemical data reveal that D53 acts as a repressor of the SL signalling pathway, whose hormone-induced degradation represents a key molecular link between SL perception and responses.