Reduction in chromosome number and genetic recombination during meiosis require the prior association of homologous chromosomes, and this has been assumed to be a central event in meiosis. Various studies have suggested, however, that while the reduction division of meiosis is a universally conserved process, the pre-meiotic association of homologues differs among organisms. In the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster, some somatic tissues also show association of homologues [1,2]. In the budding yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae, there is some evidence for homologue association during the interphase before meiotic division [3,4], and it has been argued that such associations lead directly to meiotic homologue pairing during prophase I . The available evidence for mammals suggests that homologous chromosomes do not associate in germ cells prior to meiotic prophase . To study the occurrence of homologue pairing in wheat, we have used vibratome tissue sections of wheat florets to determine the location of homologous chromosomes, centromeres and telomeres in different cell types of developing anthers. Fluorescence in situ hybridization followed by confocal microscopy demonstrated that homologous chromosomes associate pre-meiotically in meiocytes (germ-line cells). Surprisingly, association of homologues was observed simultaneously in all the surrounding somatic tapetum cells. Homologues failed to associate at equivalent stages in a homologue recognition mutant. These results demonstrate that the factors responsible for the recognition and association of homologues in wheat act before the onset of meiotic prophase. The observation of homologue association in somatic tapetum cells demonstrates that this process and meiotic division are separable.