A moderately repetitive genomic DNA sequence (designated pLPBB2-123) derived from Lolium perenne L. (Poaceae) is considerably more abundant in the genome of this species than in that of the closely related L. temulentum. The repetitive sequence probe is clearly able to discriminate between the genomic DNA of both species in Southern analysis, and effectively 'paints' only the chromosome set of L. perenne in diploid and triploid hybrids with L. temulentum. Fluorescence in situ hybridisation of this sequence onto homologous chromosomes during meiosis I of the hybrids shows that the sequence is evenly distributed along all of the chromosomes of L. perenne and appears to have little effect on the structural integrity or recombination potential of hybrid bivalents. Discrimination between chromatin of different parental origin in hybrid bivalents shows for the first time a progressive relaxation of relational coiling of homoeologues throughout meiotic prophase. It also highlights structural irregularities that can now be unequivocally assigned to the longer chromosomes of L. temulentum. The advantages of the use of specific differentially amplified sequences instead of whole genome probes are discussed within the context of introgression breeding programmes within the Lolium/Festuca complex.