Ecological factors, hybrid sterility and differences in ploidy levels are well known for contributing to gene-flow barriers in plants. Another common postzygotic incompatibility, hybrid necrosis, has received comparatively little attention in the evolutionary genetics literature. Hybrid necrosis is associated with a suite of phenotypic characteristics that are similar to those elicited in response to various environmental stresses, including pathogen attack. The genetic architecture is generally simple, and complies with the Bateson-Dobzhansky-Muller model for hybrid incompatibility between species. We survey the extensive literature on this topic and present the hypothesis that hybrid necrosis can result from autoimmunity, perhaps as a pleiotropic effect of evolution of genes that are involved in pathogen response.