Samples of single colony isolates of Erysiphe graminis f.sp. hordei were collected in Cambridge on three dates in 1985, and tested for the presence of 12 virulence alleles and resistance to two fungicides, triadimenol and ethirimol. The frequency of the virulence V-(La) fell during 1985, while the frequency of V-h. virulence on cv. Triumph and higher levels of resistance to each fungicide and combined resistance to both fungicides rose. Two phenotypes, both of which possessed virulence on cv. Triumph and three unnecessary virulence alleles and had similar sensitivities to ethirimol, but differed in their level of resistance to triadimenol, accounted for 35.9% of all isolates. The high frequency of these phenotypes accounted for most of the observed gametic phase disequilibria between pathogenicity characters. Most individuals with these two phenotypes may be members of the same clone. It was estimated that 25% of the spore population which initiated the autumn epidemic of E.g. f.sp. hordei originated from ascospores formed by sexual reproduction in the summer. It is proposed that genetic drift followed by hitch-hiking selection, due to intense selection for a clone virulent on a newly-introduced cultivar, is a major factor influencing the frequency of unnecessary virulence alleles.