The response of populations of Erysiphe graminis f. sp. hordei to selection by pure and mixed stands of three spring barley cultivars was studied in two field trials. The range of virulence of the pathogen genotypes selected in mixed host stands was dependent on the relative fitness of each genotype over all hosts. Unnecessary virulences were rapidly selected against on some hosts, but were less deleterious or favoured on others. In general there was selection for widely adapted pathogen genotypes in mixed host populations but this selection for flexibility limited the abilitytions in the absolute size of the pathogen population in host mixtures reduced the absolute frequencies of pathogen genotypes with combined virulences in comparison with those in pure stands. It is argued that host mixtures are therefore unlikely to favour rapid pathogen evolution towards races which are both widely adapted and highly virulent on all component cultivars which they can infect his definition docs not conform with conventional usage in population genetics.