Arabinogalactan proteins (AGPs) are a complex family of cell-wall proteoglycans that are thought to play major roles in plant growth and development. Genetic approaches to studying AGP function have met limited success so far, presumably due to redundancy within the large gene families encoding AGP backbones. Here we used an alternative approach for genetic dissection of the role of AGPs in development by modifying their glycan side chains. We have identified an Arabidopsis glycosyltransferase of CAZY family GT31 (AtGALT31A) that galactosylates AGP side chains. A mutation in the AtGALT31A gene caused the arrest of embryo development at the globular stage. The presence of the transcript in the suspensor of globular-stage embryos is consistent with a role for AtGALT31A in progression of embryo development beyond the globular stage. The first observable defect in the mutant is perturbation of the formative asymmetric division of the hypophysis, indicating an essential role for AGP proteoglycans in either specification of the hypophysis or orientation of the asymmetric division plane.