Heading date is one of the most important quantitative traits responsible for the domestication of rice. We compared a 155-kb reference segment of the Oryza sativa ssp. japonica cv. Nipponbare genome surrounding Hd1, a major heading date gene in rice, with orthologous regions from nine diploid Oryza species that diverged over a relatively short time frame (∼16 My) to study sequence evolution around a domestication locus. The orthologous Hd1 region from Sorghum bicolor was included to compare and contrast the evolution in a more distant relative of rice. Consistent with other observations at the adh1/adh2, monoculm1, and sh2/a1 loci in grass species, we found high gene colinearity in the Hd1 region amidst size differences that were lineage specific and long terminal repeat retrotransposon driven. Unexpectedly, the Hd1 gene was deleted in O. glaberrima, whereas the O. rufipogon and O. punctata copies had degenerative mutations, suggesting that other heading date loci might compensate for the loss or nonfunctionality of Hd1 in these species. Compared with the japonica Hd1 region, the orthologous region in sorghum exhibited micro-rearrangements including gene translocations, seven additional genes, and a gene triplication and truncation event predating the divergence from Oryza. © 2010 The Author.