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Plant microRNAs (miRNAs) show a high degree of sequence complementarity to, and are believed to guide the cleavage of, their target messenger RNAs. Here, Ishow that miRNA172, which can base-pair with the messenger RNA of a floral homeotic gene, APETALA2, regulates APETALA2 expression primarily through translational inhibition. Elevated miRNA172 accumulation results in floral organ identity defects similar to those in loss-of-function apetala2 mutants. Elevated levels of mutant APETALA2 RNA with disrupted miRNA172 base pairing, but not wild-type APETALA2 RNA, result in elevated levels of APETALA2 protein and severe floral patterning defects. Therefore, miRNA172 likely acts in cell-fate specification as a translational repressor of APETALA2 in Arabidopsis flower development.