Roses are one of the most important cut flowers among ornamental plants. Rose flower longevity is largely dependent on the timing of petal shedding occurrence. To understand the molecular mechanism underlying petal abscission in rose, we performed transcriptome profiling of the petal abscission zone during petal shedding using Illumina technology. We identified a total of 2592 differentially transcribed genes (DTGs) during rose petal shedding. Gene ontology term enrichment and pathway analysis revealed that major biochemical pathways the DTGs were involved in included ethylene biosynthesis, starch degradation, superpathway of cytosolic glycolysis, pyruvate dehydrogenase and TCA cycle, photorespiration and the lactose degradation III pathway. This suggests that alterations in carbon metabolism are an important part of rose petal abscission. Among these DTGs, approximately 150 genes putatively encoding transcription factors were identified in rose abscission zone. These included zinc finger, WRKY, ERF, and Aux/IAA gene families, suggesting that petal abscission involves complex transcriptional reprogramming. Approximately 108 DTGs were related to hormone pathways, of which auxin and ethylene related DTGs were the largest groups including 52 and 41 genes, respectively. These also included 12 DTGs related to gibberellin and 6 DTGs in jasmonic acid pathway. Surprisingly, no DTGs involved in the biosynthesis/signaling of abscisic acid, cytokinin, brassinosteroid, and salicylic acid pathways were detected. Moreover, among DTGs related to auxin, we identified an Aux/IAA gene RhIAA16 that was up-regulated in response to petal shedding. Down-regulation of RhIAA16 by virus-induced gene silencing in rose promoted petal abscission, suggesting that RhIAA16 plays an important role in rose petal abscission.