Field isolates and laboratory strains of Botrytis cinerea, an ascomycetous fungus causing considerable economic losses, e.g., as "grey mould" of vine, were compared for differences in ploidy level by determining their DNA content per nucleus. Strain SAS56, an ascospore line used routinely for genetic analyses, is probably polyploid, since treatment with benomyl causes a significant reduction in DNA content per nucleus. This conclusion is substantiated by the increased sensitivity of the putative haploid derivatives to mutagens (UV and EMS). Molecular analyses (RAPD) of the haploidized strains indicate a very limited degree of heterozygosis of the parent strain SAS56. Analysis of field isolates of B. cinerea showed that their DNA content per nucleus varied considerably, indicating that aneuploidy/polyploidy is a widespread phenomenon in this species. This can explain both the variability and phenotypic instability of many field isolates of this fungus and the unusual difficulties faced by researchers in recovering stable recessive laboratory mutants. Since the haploid derivatives of SAS56 resemble the parent strain in their parasitic and physiological properties they should provide a good basis for classical and molecular genetic studies.