Cellulose synthase-like (CSL) genes are predicted to catalyse the biosynthesis of non-cellulosic polysaccharides such as the β-d-glycan backbone of hemicelluloses and are classified into nine subfamilies (CSLA–CSLH and CSLJ). The CSLD subfamily is conserved in all land plants, and among the nine CSL subfamilies, it shows the highest sequence similarity to the cellulose synthase genes, suggesting that it plays fundamental roles in plant development. This study presents a detailed analysis of slender leaf 1 (sle1) mutants of rice that showed rolled and narrow leaf blades and a reduction in plant height. The narrow leaf blade of sle1 was caused by reduced cell proliferation beginning at the P3 primordial stage. In addition to the size reduction of organs, sle1 mutants exhibited serious developmental defects in pollen formation, anther dehiscence, stomata formation, and cell arrangement in various tissues. Map-based cloning revealed that SLE1 encodes the OsCSLD4 protein, which was identified previously from a narrow leaf and dwarf 1 mutant. In situ hybridization experiments showed that OsCSLD4 was expressed in a patchy pattern in developing organs. Double-target in situ hybridization and quantitative RT-PCR analyses revealed that SLE1 was expressed specifically during the M-phase of the cell cycle, and suggested that the cell-cycle regulation was altered in sle1 mutants. These results suggest that the OsCSLD4 protein plays a pivotal role in the M phase to regulate cell proliferation. Further study of OsCSLD4 is expected to yield new insight into the role of hemicelluloses in plant development.