In plant development, leaf primordia are formed on the flanks of the shoot apical meristem in a highly predictable pattern. The cells that give rise to a primordium are sequestered from the apical meristem. Maintenance of the meristem requires that these cells be replaced by the addition of new cells. Despite the central role of these activities in development, the mechanism controlling and coordinating them is poorly understood. These processes have been characterized in the Arabidopsis mutant forever young (fey). The fey mutation results in a disruption of leaf positioning and meristem maintenance. The predicted FEY protein shares significant homology to a nodulin and limited homology to various reductases. It is proposed that FEY plays a role in communication in the shoot apex through the modification of a factor regulating meristem development.