Wild-collected strains of Neurospora crassa harbor recessive mutations that are expressed in the sexual phase when homozygous. Thirty-two representative mutants that produced barren perithecia were examined cytologically. Six of these mutants failed to form asci. Of the remaining 26, chromosome pairing was disturbed in 12 and meiosis was disturbed at pachytene or diplotene in 5. Seven mutants showed normal meiosis I but then diverged from the normal sequence, and two showed perithecial beak abnormalities. In many mutants, ascus development and nuclear divisions continued after the initial defect, albeit abnormally. Nuclear divisions were often delayed, essentially uncoupling them from other ascus events such as the formation of enlarged spindle pole body plaques, ascospore wall membranes, and spore delimitation. All 32 mutants were recessive and none showed obvious morphological abnormalities during vegetative growth. This phenotype contrasts sharply with that of numerous laboratory-induced ascus mutants, which are frequently expressed pleiotropically in the vegetative phase and several are dominant in the sexual phase.