Although F1 female hybrids between Anopheles gambiae and A. arabiensis are fully fertile, sterility is present in backcross females. Here we report the results of a study into the genetic basis of backcross female sterility. Using 23 markers, we performed quantitative trait loci (QTL) mapping analyses to identify chromosomal regions involved in hybrid female sterility. We found that female sterility in backcrosses in both directions is primarily caused by interspecific interactions between a heterozygous X chromosome and recessive autosomal factors. In addition, our data provide support for two theories implicated in Haldane's rule in a single taxon. A comparison with data from a previous study shows that male hybrid sterility QTL are present in higher numbers than female hybrid sterility QTL. Furthermore, autosomal female sterility factors tend to be recessive, supporting the dominance theory for female sterility. Finally, our data indicate a very large effect of the X chromosome from both species on hybrid female sterility, despite the fact that the X chromosome represents less than 9% of the genome. However, this could be the result of a lack of introgression of the X chromosome between A. gambiae and A. arabiensis, rather than a faster evolution of sterility factors on the X chromosome.