Four mutants that show the delayed leaf senescence phenotype were isolated from Arabidopsis thaliana. Genetic analyses revealed that they are all monogenic recessive mutations and fall into three complementation groups, identifying three genetic loci controlling leaf senescence in Arabidopsis. Mutations in these loci cause delay in all senescence parameters examined, including chlorophyll content, photochemical efficiency of photosystem II, relative amount of the large subunit of Rubisco, and RNase and peroxidase activity. Delay of the senescence symptoms was observed during both age-dependent in planta senescence and dark-induced artificial senescence in all of the mutant plants. The results indicate that the three genes defined by the mutations are key genetic elements controlling functional leaf senescence and provide decisive genetic evidence that leaf senescence is a genetically programmed phenomenon controlled by several monogenic loci in Arabidopsis. The results further suggest that the three genes function at a common step of age-dependent and dark-induced senescence processes. It is further shown that one of the mutations is allelic to ein2-1, an ethylene-insensitive mutation, confirming the role of ethylene signal transduction pathway in leaf senescence of Arabidopsis.