Seed shape (SS) affects the yield and appearance of soybean seeds significantly. However, little detailed information has been reported about the quantitative trait loci (QTL) affecting SS, especially SS components such as seed length (SL), seed width (SW) and seed thickness (ST), and their mutual ratios of length-to-weight (SLW), length-to-thickness (SLT) and weight-to-thickness (SWT). The aim of the present study was to identify QTL underlying SS components using 129 recombinant inbred lines derived from a cross between Dongnong46 and L-100. Phenotypic data were collected from this population after it was grown across nine environments. A total of 213 simple sequence repeat markers were used to construct the genetic linkage map, which covered approximately 3623·39 cM, with an average distance of 17·01 cM between markers. Five QTL were identified as being associated with SL, five with SW, three with ST, four with SLW, two with SLT and three with SWT. These QTL could explain 1·46–22·16% of the phenotypic variation in SS component traits. Three QTL were identified in more than six tested environments three for SL, two for SW, one for ST, two for SLW and one for SLT. These QTL have great potential value for marker-assistant selection of SS in soybean seeds.