Centromeres are sites for assembly of the chromosomal structures that mediate faithful segregation at mitosis and meiosis. Plant and animal centromeres are typically located in megabase-sized arrays of tandem satellite repeats, making their precise mapping difficult. However, some rice centromeres are largely embedded in nonsatellite DNA, providing an excellent model to study centromere structure and evolution. We used chromatin immunoprecipitation and 454 sequencing to define the boundaries of nine of the 12 centromeres of rice. Centromere regions from chromosomes 8 and 9 were found to share synteny, most likely reflecting an ancient genome duplication. For four centromeres, we mapped discrete subdomains of binding by the centromeric histone variant CENH3. These subdomains were depleted in both intact and nonfunctional genes relative to interspersed subdomains lacking CENH3. The intergenic location of rice centromeric chromatin resembles the situation for human neocentromeres and supports a model of the evolution of centromeres from gene-poor regions.