Supplemental far-red (FR) illumination of light-grown grass seedlings inhibits tiller production while enhancing leaf elongation. Although much is known about FR enhancement of internode elongation in dicots, relatively little research has been conducted to determine the effects of FR on monocot development. In growth chamber experiments, fibre optics were used to direct supplemental FR to elongating leaf blades, main stem bases and mature leaf blades of light-grown barley (Hordeum vulgare L.) seedlings. Our objective was to identify specific sites of perception for FR enhancement of leaf elongation and inhibition of tiller production, and to assess potential FR effects on tiller senescence. Far-red illumination of elongating leaves or of the main stem base reduced the total number of tillers per plant, primarily by reducing secondary and tertiary tiller production, and enhanced leaf elongation. However, leaf elongation was less sensitive to stem base treatments than to illumination of the elongating blade. Increased leaf length resulted from increased leaf elongation rate, while the duration of leaf elongation was unaffected. Exposure of mature leaf blades to FR had no effect on tillering or leaf elongation. None of the FR treatments led to tiller senescence. Localization of FR perception in vertically oriented tissues such as elongating blades and stem bases permits early detection of reflected light from neighbouring plants, allowing rapid response to impending competition.