In annual plants affected by inflorescence-invading smut pathogens, avoidance of infection is crucial, while in the event of infection, the existence of different degrees of tolerance could also affect the interaction dynamics. Two experiments were performed with Digitaria sanguinalis spikelets vacuum inoculated with ustilospores of Ustilago syntherismae. In the first experiment, they were sown in pots and mature plants were checked to detect internal hyphae. Observations revealed the presence of symptomless mycelium in a few plants. In the second experiment the spikelets, from two different lots, were grown in a chamber. The objective was to explore the importance of two factors in the degree of seedling infection, one genotypic – type of germination (TG; radicular or coleoptilar) and one environmental – 48 h dark treatment (DT) applied just after germination. Analysis of the infection frequency showed that all the main effects (seed lot origin, TG and DT) were significant, while interactions were not. For TG, the estimated least square mean infection percentages were 66% for radicular germination and 46% for coleoptilar germination. Darkness increased seedling infection by 25%. Differences between TG, DT and their relationship with mesocotyl length exposed to the germinating spores are discussed.