Genetic relationships between 7 annual species of the genus Cicer, including the cultivated chickpea, have been studied. These species were assigned to 3 crossability groups. In each group interspecific hybrids could be obtained but their fertility differed considerably in the various cross combinations. Crosses between members of different groups yielded no viable seeds. The possibility of gene transfer from the wild species to the cultivated chickpea C. arietinum was also assessed. Only two species could be considered for this purpose, C. reticulatum, which is the wild progenitor of the cultivated species, and C. echinospermum, which is in the secondary gene pool of C. arietinum. A unique postzygotic reproductive barrier mechanism was found between the members of Group II, C. judaicum, C. pinnatifidum and C. bijugum. It is based on a disharmony in the growth rate of the stigma and the anthers at the time of anthesis of the F1 interspecific hybrid so that selfpollination is avoided. It is proposed that this kind of mechanism has been involved only when an effective spatial isolation between the three species had been obtained.