Aliphatic alcohols naturally exist in many organisms as important cellular components; however, their roles in extracellular polymer biosynthesis are poorly defined. We report here the isolation and characterization of a rice (Oryza sativa) male-sterile mutant, defective pollen wall (dpw), which displays defective anther development and degenerated pollen grains with an irregular exine. Chemical analysis revealed that dpw anthers had a dramatic reduction in cutin monomers and an altered composition of cuticular wax, as well as soluble fatty acids and alcohols. Using map-based cloning, we identified the DPW gene, which is expressed in both tapetal cells and microspores during anther development. Biochemical analysis of the recombinant DPW enzyme shows that it is a novel fatty acid reductase that produces 1-hexadecanol and exhibits >270-fold higher specificity for palmiltoyl-acyl carrier protein than for C16:0 CoA substrates. DPW was predominantly targeted to plastids mediated by its N-terminal transit peptide. Moreover, we demonstrate that the monocot DPW from rice complements the dicot Arabidopsis thaliana male sterile2 (ms2) mutant and is the probable ortholog of MS2. These data suggest that DPWs participate in a conserved step in primary fatty alcohol synthesis for anther cuticle and pollen sporopollenin biosynthesis in monocots and dicots.