A set of cDNA clones, which had previously been mapped onto wheat chromosomes, was genetically mapped onto the chromosomes of rice. The resulting comparative maps make it possible to estimate the degree of linkage conservation between these two species. A number of chromosomal rearrangements, some of which must have involved interchromosomal translocations, differentiate the rice and wheat genomes. However, synteny of a large proportion of the loci appears to be conserved between the two species. The results of this study, combined with those from a recently published comparative map of the rice and maize genomes, suggest that rice, wheat and maize share extensive homoeologies in a number of regions in their genomes. Some chromosomes (e.g. chromosome 4 in rice, chromosomes 2 and 2S in wheat and maize, respectively) may have escaped major rearrangement since the divergence of these species from their last common ancestor. Comparative maps for rice, wheat and maize should make it possible to begin uniting the genetics of these species and allow for transfer of mapping information (including centromere positions) and molecular marker resources (e.g. RFLP probes) between species. In addition, such maps should shed light on the nature of chromosome evolution that accompanied the radiation of grasses in the early stages of plant diversification.