We report the isolation, sequence, and pattern of gene expression of members of the KNOTTED1 (KN1)-type class 1 homeobox gene family from rice. Phylogenetic analysis and mapping of the rice genome revealed that all of the rice homeobox genes that we have isolated have one or two direct homologs in maize. Of the homeobox genes that we tested, all exhibited expression in a restricted region of the embryo that defines the position at which the shoot apical meristem (SAM) would eventually develop, prior to visible organ formation. Several distinct spatial and temporal expression patterns were observed for the different genes in this region. After shoot formation, the expression patterns of these homeobox genes were variable in the region of the SAM. These results suggest that the rice KN1-type class 1 homeobox genes function cooperatively to establish the SAM before shoot formation and that after shoot formation, their functions differ.