The variation in nuclear DNA content and its association with phenotypic traits were examined in 15 cultivated populations of perennial ryegrass (Lolium perenne), including herbage and turf populations. Nuclear DNA contents of 15 populations were measured by flow cytometric method using DAPI (4'-6-diamidino-2-phenylindole) as a fluorochrome. DNA contents were also measured using PI (propidium iodide) for six populations that showed large differences in DAPI values to confirm the difference. There were significant differences in nuclear DNA contents among the populations for both dyes. Of the total variation in nuclear DNA content measured with DAPI, 29% was ascribed to the inter-population variation, 46% was ascribed to the intra-population variation, 24% was ascribed to the random error variation. Herbage populations tended to have larger DNA content than turf populations. 2C DNA content was positively correlated with cell size, seed size and single leaf size, although significant correlations were mainly due to a small number of populations with large and small DNA contents. These results suggest that intraspecific variation in nuclear DNA content plays important roles in determining phenotypic differences between cultivated populations of L. perenne.