The karyotypes of diploid P. fragilis subsp. villosus (2n = 2x = 14) and tetraploid subsp. secaliformis (2n = 4x = 28) were studied by Giemsa C- and N-banding, and AgNO3 staining and compared with the karyotype of subsp. fragilis (2x). The complements of subsp. villosus and subsp. fragilis were similar, with 8 metacentric and 6 SAT-chromosomes, one metacentric and two submetacentric pairs, with small to minute, polymorphic, heterochromatic satellites. The complement of subsp. secaliformis on the whole agreed with a doubling of the complement of diploid P. fragilis, suggesting autopolyploidy. Only the presence of 12 nucleoli in interphases identified 6 SAT-chromosome pairs. In subsp. villosus one or two extra micronucleoli indicated a chromosome pair with very low nucleolus-forming activity, bringing the number of SAT-chromosome pairs to 4. This number may be a characteristic of Psathyrostachys. Besides very small, inconsistently observed bands, the C-banding pattern consisted of 0-3 small bands per chromosome at intercalary and terminal locations, and at NORs. The level of banding pattern polymorphism was low, but enough to indicate that the taxa are outbreeders. Similarities in chromosome morphology and C-banding patterns identified homology of all chromosomes of subsp. villosus, but for 12 pairs only in subsp. secaliformis. Between plants, reliable identification of homology and homoeology (subsp. secaliformis) was possible only for the SAT-chromosomes and the shortest metacentrics. Chromocentres were very small and the amount of constitutive heterochromatin was low. N-banding stained chromosomes uniformly. The basic karyotypes of the P. fragilis taxa were similar to those of P. juncea, P. lanuginosa, and P. stoloniformis supporting a close relationship and the presence of a common genome, N. NORs had different nucleolus-forming activities. Meiotic analysis demonstrated a high level of bivalent pairing in the three taxa. A chromosomal rearrangement was suggested in subsp. villosus. The low multivalent frequency in subsp. secaliformis indicates the presence of a pairing regulation mechanism. The majority of chiasmata were interstitial. Pollen grain size discriminated between diploid and tetraploid taxa. The existence of a diploid cytotype of subsp. secaliformis is supported by pollen measurements of herbarium material.