Genetic variation for seed dormancy in nature is a typical quantitative trait controlled by multiple loci on which environmental factors have a strong effect. Finding the genes underlying dormancy quantitative trait loci is a major scientific challenge, which also has relevance for agriculture and ecology. In this study we describe the identification of the DELAY OF GERMINATION 1 (DOG1) gene previously identified as a quantitative trait locus involved in the control of seed dormancy. This gene was isolated by a combination of positional cloning and mutant analysis and is absolutely required for the induction of seed dormancy. DOG1 is a member of a small gene family of unknown molecular function, with five members in Arabidopsis. The functional natural allelic variation present in Arabidopsis is caused by polymorphisms in the cis-regulatory region of the DOG1 gene and results in considerable expression differences between the DOG1 alleles of the accessions analyzed.