Development of stable male sterility lines is essential for efficient hybrid seed production. We previously showed that knockout of bHLH142 in rice (Oryza sativa) causes pollen sterility by interrupting tapetal programmed cell death (PCD). In this study, we demonstrated that overexpression of bHLH142 (OE142) under the control of ubiquitin promoter also leads to male sterility in rice by triggering the premature onset of PCD. Protein of bHLH142 was found to accumulate specifically in the OE142 anthers. Overexpression of bHLH142 induced early expression of several key regulatory transcription factors in pollen development. In particular, the upregulation of EAT1 at the early stage of pollen development promoted premature PCD in the OE142 anthers, while its downregulation at the late stage impaired pollen development by suppressing genes involved in pollen wall biosynthesis, ROS scavenging and PCD. Collectively, these events led to male sterility in OE142. Analyses of related mutants further revealed the hierarchy of these pollen development regulatory genes. Thus, the findings of this study create a new method to generate genic male sterility in rice. Exploitation of this novel functionality of bHLH142 would confer a big advantage to hybrid seed production.