The molecular and cytological organization of the telomeric repeat (TR) and the subtelomeric repeat (TGR1) of tomato were investigated by fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) techniques. Hybridization signals on extended DNA fibres, visualized as linear fluorescent arrays representing individual telomeres, unequivocally demonstrated the molecular co-linear arrangement of both repeats. The majority of the telomeres consisted of a TR and a TGR1 region separated by a spacer. Microscopic measurements of the TR and TGR1 signals revealed high variation in length of both repeats, with maximum sizes of 223 and 1330 kb, respectively. A total of 27 different combinations of TR and TGR1 was detected, suggesting that all chromosome ends have their own unique telomere organization. The fluorescent tracks on the extended DNA fibres were subdivided into four classes: (i) TR-spacer-TGR1; (ii) TR-TGR1; (iii) only TR; (iv) only TGR1. FISH to pachytene chromosomes enabled some of the TR/TGR1 groups to be assigned to specific chromosome ends and to interstitial regions. These signals also provided evidence for a reversed order of the TR and TGR1 sites at the native chromosome ends, suggesting a backfolding telomere structure with the TGR1 repeats occupying the most terminal position of the chromosomes. The FISH signals on diakinesis chromosomes revealed that distal euchromatin areas and flanking telomeric heterochromatin remained highly decondensed around the chiasmata in the euchromatic chromosome areas. The rationale for the occurrence and distribution of the TR and TGR1 repeats on the tomato chromosomes are discussed.