The clustering of telomeres on the nuclear envelope (NE) during meiotic prophase to form the bouquet arrangement of chromosomes may facilitate homologous chromosome synapsis. The pam1 (plural abnormalities of meiosis 1) gene is the first maize gene that appears to be required for telomere clustering, and homologous synapsis is impaired in pam1. Telomere clustering on the NE is arrested or delayed at an intermediate stage in pam1. Telomeres associate with the NE during the leptotene-zygotene transition but cluster slowly if at all as meiosis proceeds. Intermediate stages in telomere clustering including miniclusters are observed in pam1 but not in wild-type meiocytes. The tight bouquet normally seen at zygotene is a rare event. In contrast, the polarization of centromeres vs. telomeres in the nucleus at the leptotene-zygotene transition is the same in mutant and wild-type cells. Defects in homologous chromosome synapsis include incomplete synapsis, nonhomologous synapsis, and unresolved interlocks. However, the number of RAD51 foci on chromosomes in pam1 is similar to that of wild type. We suggest that the defects in homologous synapsis and the retardation of prophase I arise from the irregularity of telomere clustering and propose that pam1 is involved in the control of bouquet formation and downstream meiotic prophase I events.