Amphibians employ a genetic mechanism of sex determination, according to all available information on sex chromosomes or breeding tests. Sex reversal allows breeding tests to establish which sex is heterogametic and provides an indication of the mechanism of sex determination. Cases of spontaneous and experimental sex reversal (by temperature, hormones or surgery) are reviewed and illustrated by previously unpublished studies on crested newts. These newts respond conventionally to temperature and hormone treatment but provide anomalous results from breeding tests. It is suggested that both the evolution from temperature dependency to a genetic switch and from ZZ/ZW to XX/XY are superimposed on a generally uniform mechanism of sex determination in all vertebrates.