The location and frequency of Ag-stained NORs and sites of rDNA hybridization were studied in the chromosomes of the South American camelids. In the four camelids these regions occur distally on chromosomes 18, 21, and 27 and the smallest biarmed elements. Quantitative analysis of NOR distribution showed variations between both cells and species. In llama, guanaco and alpaca the NORs number averaged 6 per cell, this being higher than in vicuña where the average was 3. Relative frequencies of NOR-bearing chromosomes in the four camelids were similar. Yet, in vicuña virtual absence of NOR sites on one of the smallest biarmed pairs was observed. The rDNA sites assessed in llama and vicuña by in situ hybridization with cloned 18S DNA were coincident with the NOR locations and with the frequencies characteristics for each species. Moreover, varying the exposure time of the autoradiographs, labeling patterns specific for each camelid were observed. Grain counts on individual chromosomes indicated that under our conditions one month exposure is enough to demonstrate all the rDNA sites available in the complement of llama. Conversely, at least two months are necessary to show the total sites existing in vicuña. Most probably this finding reflects the presence of variations in the amount of copies of the ribosomal genes per chromosome.