Chromosomal changes, including polyploidy and dysploidy, often accompany speciation of angiosperms in continental regions. In contrast, on geologically young oceanic islands, little change in chromosome number occurs during speciation of endemics. Absence of change in number of chromosomes does not necessarily mean lack of chromosomal rearrangements. To determine whether detailed karyotypic changes accompany speciation in island habitats, nine endemic species in Abelia, Acer, Campanula, Dystaenia, Hepatica, Rubus, Valeriana, Veronica and Viola of Ullung Island, a geologically young volcanic island off the coast of peninsular Korea in the Eastern Sea, have been compared with progenitors in mainland Korea and Japan. Results confirm that no changes in ploidy level or dysploidy have occurred during speciation of these endemic island taxa. Detailed karyotypic analysis indicates that most of the taxa have not undergone significant macromorphological chromosomal changes. In the bitypic genus Dystaenia (Umbelliferae), D. takesimana, endemic to Ullung Island, differs karyotypically from its progenitor, D. ibukiensis from Japan, in a number of chromosomal elements, some of which appear to be satellites and others of which may represent B chromosomes. This suggests that rDNA loci might have been lost or rearranged during speciation. © 2002 The Linnean Society of London, Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society, 138, 93–105.