Genome size was estimated in 49 clones of the Daphnia pulex complex from temperate and subarctic locations using flow cytometry and microsatellite DNA analyses. Significant genome size differences were found in diploid species belonging to the two genetically distinct groups (the pulicaria and the tenebrosa groups), with clones from the tenebrosa group having genome sizes 22% larger than those in the pulicaria group. Combined flow cytometry and microsatellite DNA analyses revealed that nearly all polyploid clones in the D. pulex complex are triploid and not tetraploid, as was previously suggested. Sequencing analyses of the ND5 gene to position clones in their respective clades within the D. pulex complex have uncovered three triploid clones of Daphnia middendorffiana with a D. pulex maternal parent. This result was unexpected because Daphnia pulicaria has always been identified as the maternal parent of these hybrid polyploid clones. Triploid clones likely owe their origins to interactions between sexual and asexual populations. Further interactions in the tenebrosa group have generated tetraploid clones but these events have been rare. © 2009 The Linnean Society of London, Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 2009, 97, 68–79.