One major challenge in genetic diversity analysis of minor grass species is the lack of informative molecular markers. A set of 210 simple sequence repeat (SSR) markers developed from wheat and barley were evaluated for their transferability to three rough fescue species [Festuca altaica Trinius, F. campestris (Rydb.) and F. hallii (Vassey) Piper]. Twelve SSR primer pairs displayed scorable polymorphism among and within the species. The number of alleles per primer pair ranged from three to 17 with an average of 8.3 for all the species and greatly varied for each species. About 82% of SSR variation resided within the species. Festuca hallii was genetically most distinct among the three species.