The origin recognition complex (ORC) is a pivotal element in DNA replication, heterochromatin assembly, checkpoint regulation and chromosome assembly. Although the functions of the ORC have been determined in yeast and model animals, they remain largely unknown in the plant kingdom. In this study, Oryza sativa Origin Recognition Complex subunit 3 (OsORC3) was cloned using map-based cloning procedures, and functionally characterized using a rice (Oryza sativa) orc3 mutant. The mutant showed a temperature-dependent defect in lateral root (LR) development. Map-based cloning showed that a G→A mutation in the 9th exon of OsORC3 was responsible for the mutant phenotype. OsORC3 was strongly expressed in regions of active cell proliferation, including the primary root tip, stem base, lateral root primordium, emerged lateral root primordium, lateral root tip, young shoot, anther and ovary. OsORC3 knockdown plants lacked lateral roots and had a dwarf phenotype. The root meristematic zone of ORC3 knockdown plants exhibited increased cell death and reduced vital activity compared to the wild-type. CYCB1;1::GUS activity and methylene blue staining showed that lateral root primordia initiated normally in the orc3 mutant, but stopped growing before formation of the stele and ground tissue. Our results indicate that OsORC3 plays a crucial role in the emergence of lateral root primordia.