This study examined the karyotype, the fermentation performance and the optimum growth temperature (Topt) of 28 yeast strains all identified as species belonging to Saccharomyces sensu stricto. The strains were isolated from fermented musts, which had not been inoculated, at two temperature ranges: 20-40 degrees C and approximately 0-6 degrees C. The results demonstrated a correlation between the Topt and the chromosome organization. In particular, strains with Topt of less than 30 degrees C showed only two bands in the region between 365 and 225 kb, while those with a Topt greater than 30 degrees C had three bands in this size range. From a taxonomic viewpoint, the Topt is a better indicator for the Saccharomyces sp. than the ceiling temperature of 37 degrees C currently used to differentiate cryotolerant Saccharomyces bayanus and S. pastorianus from non-cryotolerant S. cerevisiae and S. paradoxus strains.