Homologous chromosomes exchange genetic information through recombination during meiotic synapsis, a process that increases genetic diversity and is fundamental to sexual reproduction. Meiotic studies in mammalian species are scarce and mainly focused on human and mouse. Here, the meiotic recombination events were determined in three species of Platyrrhini monkeys (Cebus libidinosus, Cebus nigritus and Alouatta caraya) by analysing the distribution of MLH1 foci at the stage of pachytene. Moreover, the combination of immunofluorescence and fluorescent in situ hybridisation has enabled us to construct recombination maps of primate chromosomes that are homologous to human chromosomes 13 and 21. Our results show that (a) the overall number of MLH1 foci varies among all three species, (b) the presence of heterochromatin blocks does not have a major influence on the distribution of MLH1 foci and (c) the distribution of crossovers in the homologous chromosomes to human chromosomes 13 and 21 are conserved between species of the same genus (C. libidinosus and C. nigritus) but are significantly different between Cebus and Alouatta. This heterogeneity in recombination behaviour among Ceboidea species may reflect differences in genetic diversity and genome composition. © 2011 Springer-Verlag.