Cotton is unusual among major crop plants in that two cross-fertile species are widely cultivated for a common economic product, fiber. Both historical evidence and classical genetic studies suggest that many improved forms of Gossypium barbadense ("Sea Island", "Egyptian", and "Pima" cottons) may include chromatin derived from G. hirsutum. Using 106 restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP) loci well distributed across the cotton genome, we revealed the amount and genomic distribution of G. hirsutum chromatin in 54 G. barbadense collections from around the world. The average G. barbadense collection was comprised of 8.9% alleles apparently derived from G. hirsutum. Pima cultivars (7.3 %) had fewer G. hirsutum alleles than Sea Island (9.0%) or Egyptian (9.6%) cultivars. G. hirsutum alleles were not randomly distributed, as 57.5% of the total introgression observed was accounted for by five specific chromosomal regions that span less than 10% of the genome. The average length of an introgressed chromosome segment was [Symbol: see text] 12.9 cM. Overlap of introgressed chromatin in different breeding programs hints that retention of these G. hirsutum chromosomal segments may impart a selective advantage to G. barbadense genotypes. Although cluster analysis generally grouped germ plasm from common classes and/or breeding programs together, no 2 genotypes were identical - thus differences in the length and repertoire of introgressed chromosome segments also permit DNA fingerprinting of G. barbadense cultivars.