The fatty acid composition of photosynthetic tissues from 137 species of gymnosperms belonging to 14 families was determined by gas chromatography. Statistical analysis clearly discriminated four groups. Ginkgoaceae, Cycadaceae, Stangeriaceae, Zamiaceae, Sciadopityaceae, Podocarpaceae, Cephalotaxaceae, Taxaceae, Ephedraceae and Welwitschiaceae are in the first group, while
Cupressaceae and Araucariaceae are mainly in the second one. The third and the fourth groups composed of Pinaceae species are characterized by the genera Larix, and Abies and Cedrus, respectively. Principal component and discriminant analyses and divisive hierarchical clustering analysis of the 43 Pinaceae species were also performed. A clear-cut separation of the genera Abies, Larix, and Cedrus from the other Pinaceae was evidenced. In addition, a mass analysis of the two main chloroplastic lipids from 14 gymnosperms was performed. The results point to a great originality in gymnosperms since in several species and contrary to the angiosperms, the amount of digalactosyldiacylglycerol exceeds that of monogalactosyldiacylglycerol.