Considering a system of two coupled identical chaotic oscillators, the paper first establishes the conditions of transverse stability for the fully synchronized chaotic state. Periodic orbit threshold theory is applied to determine the bifurcations through which low-periodic orbits embedded in the fully synchronized state lose their transverse stability, and the appearance of globally and locally riddled basins of attraction is discussed, respectively, in terms of the subcritical, supercritical nature of the riddling bifurcations. We show how the introduction of a small parameter mismatch between the interacting chaotic oscillators causes a shift of the synchronization manifold. The presence of a coupling asymmetry is found to lead to further modifications of the destabilization process. Finally, the paper considers the problem of partial synchronization in a system of four coupled Rossler oscillators. ©2003 American Institute of Physics.