As most plants of the Mediterranean region bloom in spring, there have been few studies of the reproductive biology of species with autumn–winter flowering. In this study, we investigate the breeding system of Anagyris foetida, one of the few shrubs that blooms at this time. The floral, phenological, and reproductive aspects of two populations of this Mediterranean legume from south-west Spain were studied via field and laboratory experiments. The variability of fruit and seeds was studied in another 12 Iberian populations with respect to certain meteorological parameters (temperature and rainfall). Anagyris foetida shows cauliflory, marked floral longevity, and adichogamy. The peak of flowering is in January–February. It is self-compatible, with no clear advantage of cross- over self-pollination, and with virtually no autonomous self-pollination. This is because the stigma, like some other legumes, prevents the germination of pollen if its surface is not ruptured by pollinators. The number of seeds per fruit under natural pollination was positively correlated with the total rainfall during the fruiting period (from January to May), and significantly influenced the percentage of fruit weight represented by the pericarp, in the sense that the smaller the number of viable seeds in the fruit, the greater the percentage of pericarp weight. © 2008 The Linnean Society of London, Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society, 2008, 157, 519–532.