The model dicotyledonous plant, Arabidopsis thaliana, is closely related to Brassica crop species. It is intended that information concerning the genetic control of basic biological processes in Arabidopsis will be transferable to other species. Genome collinearity and its potential to facilitate the identification of candidate genes in Arabidopsis homologous to genes controlling important agronomic traits in Brassica was investigated. Genetic mapping in B. nigra identified two loci influencing flowering time (FT), with loci on linkage groups 2 and 8 explaining 53% and 12% of the total variation in FT, respectively. The CO gene exerts an important control over FT in A. thaliana, and B. nigra homologues of CO probably also play an important role in regulating FT. B. nigra homologues of CO were identified on linkage groups 2 and 8, the homologue on group 2 was coincident with the major locus controlling FT while the homologue on group 8 was within the 90% confidence interval of the weaker FT gene. The CO homologue on group 2 exhibits abundant allelic variation suggesting that it naturally controls a wide range of flowering times. Fine-scale A. thaliana/B. nigra comparative mapping demonstrated short-range collinearity between the genomes of Arabidopsis and Brassica. Eleven DNA fragments spaced over a 1.5 Mb contig in A. thaliana were used as RFLP probes in B. nigra. Three collinear representations of the A. thaliana contig were identified in B. nigra, with one interrupted by a large chromosomal inversion. Collinearity over this range will allow the resources generated by the Arabidopsis genome project to facilitate map-based cloning in Brassica crops.