Extrapair paternities (EPP) are relatively common in passerines, but rare in seabirds. Like most seabirds, albatrosses are long lived, form long-term pair bonds and require biparental care for chick-rearing. Microsatellite analyses of 327 chicks from black-browed Thalassarche melanophris, grey-headed T. chrysostoma and wandering albatrosses Diomedea exulans over two breeding seasons revealed the presence of EPP in all three species. Though EPP rates varied between species and years, up to 21% of offspring were the result of extrapair matings. Rates were highest in wandering albatrosses (6–21%) followed by grey-headed (3–10%) and black-browed (0–9%) albatrosses. EPP rates were lower in 1998 compared to 1999 in both black-browed and grey-headed albatrosses, whereas the reverse was true for wandering albatrosses. Interspecific differences in EPP rates may reflect differences in breeding phenology and sexual size dimorphism. Differences in timing and frequency of breeding may promote different opportunities for interactions with birds other than their normal partner. The different breeding habitat, dispersion and mate-attraction rituals in wandering albatross, together with the disparity in size between the sexes may also offer more scope for higher rates of EPP. Despite extensive sampling within each colony, we were unable to identify sires for many of the extrapair young; however males from other colonies were involved, raising interesting questions regarding the timing and nature of such events.