Hordeum, distributed worldwide in temperate zones, is the second largest genus in the tribe Triticeae and includes diploid, tetraploid, and hexaploid species. We determined, by DAPI staining and flow cytometry, the nuclear DNA content for 35 accessions of the genus Hordeum, from a total of 19 species, including specimens of 2 cultivars and 2 landraces of Hordeum vulgare ssp. vulgare as well as samples of 12 Hordeum vulgare ssp. spontaneum populations. Genome sizes ranged from 5.69 to 9.41 pg for the G1 nuclei of the diploids, and from 13.13 to 18.36 pg for those of the tetraploids. This constitutes a 1.7-fold variation for the diploids, contrasting with a 4% variation previously reported. For H. vulgare ssp. vulgare (barley), the accessions examined differed by 18%. These variations in genome size cannot be correlated with meiotic pairing groups (I, H, X, Y) or with proposed phylogenetic relationships within the genus. Genome size variation between barley accessions cannot be related to status as cultivated or wild, or to climatic or geological gradients. We suggest these data may indicate rapid but sporadic changes in genome size within the genus.