Scanning electron microscopy (SEM) proves to be an appropriate technique for imaging chromatin organization in meiosis I and II of rye (Secale cereale) down to a resolution of a few nanometers. It could be shown for the first time that organization of basic structural elements (coiled and parallel fibers, chromomeres) changes dramatically during the progression to metaphase I and II. Controlled loosening with proteinase K (after fixation with glutaraldehyde) provides an enhanced insight into chromosome architecture even of highly condensed stages of meiosis. By selective staining with platinum blue, DNA content and distribution can be visualized within compact chromosomes as well as in a complex arrangement of fibers. Chromatin interconnecting threads, which are typically observed in prophase I between homologous and non-homologous chromosomes, stain clearly for DNA. In zygotene transversion of chromatid strands to their homologous counterparts becomes evident. In pachytene segments of synapsed and non-synapsed homologs alternate. At synapsed regions pairing is so intimate that homologous chromosomes form one filament of structural entity. Chiasmata are characterized by chromatid strands which traverse from one homolog to its counterpart. Bivalents are characteristically fused at their telomeric regions. In metaphase I and II there is no structural evidence for primary and secondary constrictions.