The objective of this paper is to review the possibilities for using allelopathy to improve overall crop competitive ability against weeds, using rice, Oryza sativa, as an example. Laboratory, greenhouse and field screenings for allelopathy and overall weed suppression in rice have been made and allelopathic rice germplasm has been identified in laboratory and greenhouse screening. Field experiments revealed that allelopathy accounted for 34% of overall competitive ability in rice. For strongly allelopathic cultivars, allelopathy was the dominant factor determining competitive ability. Based on the results of the screenings, recombinant inbred line populations were developed for identification of quantitative trait loci (QTL) controlling allelopathy. Populations of recombinant inbred lines (RILs) were derived through single-seed descent from crosses between varieties with contrasting behaviour and QTL controlling allelopathy were identified. For rice and most probably also for other cereal crops, the findings presented can explain the limited success in previous breeding programmes for weed competition, as allelopathy has never before been acknowledged as an important factor. The findings in allelopathy indicate that it is possible to improve allelopathy in rice using marker-assisted selection. Optimizing allelopathy in combination with breeding for competitive plant types could result in crop cultivars with superior weed-suppressive ability.