High-yielding varieties developed in the 1960s and 1970s at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) and elsewhere benefited farmers and the public, ultimately increasing yields and reducing the cost of rice to consumers. Most of these varieties, however, did not have the optimum cooking quality that was possessed by many of the traditional varieties they replaced. In 1985, the IRRI-developed indica variety IR64 was released in the Philippines. In addition to its high yield, early maturity and disease resistance, it had excellent cooking quality, matching that of the best varieties available. These merits resulted in its rapid spread and cultivation on over 10 million ha in the two decades after it was released. It has intermediate amylose content and gelatinization temperature, and good taste. It is resistant to blast and bacterial blight diseases, and to brown planthopper. Because of its success as a variety, it has been used extensively in scientific studies and has been well-characterized genetically. Many valuable genes have been introduced into IR64 through backcross breeding and it has been used in thousands of crosses. Its area of cultivation has declined in the past 10 years, but it has been replaced by a new generation of high-quality varieties that are mostly its progeny or relatives. Continued basic studies on IR64 and related varieties should help in unraveling the complex genetic control of yield and other desirable traits that are prized by rice farmers and consumers.