In many eukaryotic organisms including plants, homeobox genes are thought to be master regulators that establish the cellular or regional identities and specify the fundamental body plan. We isolated and characterized a cDNA designated OSH15 (Oryza sativa homeobox 15) that encodes a KNOTTED-type homeodomain protein. Transgenic tobacco plants overexpressing the OSH15 cDNA showed a dramatically altered morphological phenotype caused by disturbance of specific aspects of tobacco development, thereby indicating the involvement of OSH15 in plant development. We analyzed the in situ mRNA localization of OSH15 through the whole plant life cycle, comparing the expression pattern with that of another rice homeobox gene, OSH1. In early embryogenesis, both genes were expressed as the same pattern at a region where the shoot apical meristem would develop later. In late embryogenesis, the expression pattern of the two genes became different. Whereas the expression of OSH1 continued within the shoot apical meristem, OSH15 expression within the shoot apical meristem ceased but became observable in a ring shaped pattern at the boundaries of some embryonic organs. This pattern of expression was similar to that observed around vegetative or reproductive shoots, or the floral meristem in mature plants. RNA in situ localization data suggest that OSH15 may play roles in the shoot organization during early embryogenesis and thereafter, OSH15 may be involved in morphogenetic events around the shoot apical meristem.