DEAD-box RNA helicases are involved in RNA metabolism, including pre-mRNA splicing, ribosome biogenesis, RNA decay and gene expression. In this study, we identified a homolog of the RH36 gene, AtRH36, which encodes a DEAD-box protein in Arabidopsis thaliana. The gene was expressed ubiquitously throughout the plant. The AtRH36 fused to green fluorescent protein was localized in the nucleus. Homozygosity for the Arabidopsis atrh36 mutants, atrh36-1 and atrh36-2, could not be obtained. Progeny of selfed Arabidopsis atrh36 heterozygote plants were obtained at a heterozygote to wild-type ratio of 1: 1, which suggested that the AtRH36 gene was involved in gametogenesis. Therefore, we performed a reciprocal cross to determine whether AtRH36 was involved in female gametophyte development. Female gametogenesis was delayed in atrh36-1, and asynchronous development of the female gametophytes was found within a single pistil. Knock-down of AtRH36 gave a pleiotropic phenotype and led to the accumulation of unprocessed 18S pre-rRNA. These results suggest that AtRH36 is essential for mitotic division during female gametogenesis and plays an important role in rRNA biogenesis in Arabidopsis.