Glycine subgenus Glycine, the sister group to the cultivated soybean and its progenitor, have received considerable study over several decades. The combination of biosystematic data and an extensive germplasm collection has provided a strong foundation for molecular systematic studies in the group, including those on allopolyploids. These studies have shown that the various polyploid taxa known from the subgenus are all part of a single large allopolyploid complex, linked by shared diploid genomes. Many elements of the complex have arisen recently, and most show evidence of recurrent origins. However, there are also many dissimilarities among even closely related polyploids. Polyploids differ from one another in such ways as number of origins, amount of allelic diversity harboured at different loci, bidirectional vs. unidirectional origins, retention of ribosomal gene homoeologues, success as measured by geographical range and abundance, and patterns of gene expression. © 2004 The Linnean Society of London, Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 2004, 82, 583–597.