Meiotic anomalies, as reviewed here, are synaptic chromosome abnormalities, limited to germ cells that cannot be detected through the study of the karyotype. Although the importance of synaptic errors has been underestimated for many years, their presence is related to many cases of human male infertility. Synaptic anomalies can be studied by immunostaining of synaptonemal complexes (SCs), but in this case their frequency is probably underestimated due to the phenomenon of synaptic adjustment. They can also be studied in classic meiotic preparations, which, from a clinical point of view, is still the best approach, especially if multiplex fluorescence in situ hybridization is at hand to solve difficult cases. Sperm chromosome FISH studies also provide indirect evidence of their presence. Synaptic anomalies can affect the rate of recombination of all bivalents, produce achiasmate small univalents, partially achiasmate medium-sized or large bivalents, or affect all bivalents in the cell. The frequency is variable, interindividually and intraindividually. The baseline incidence of synaptic anomalies is 6-8 %, which may be increased to 17.6 % in males with a severe oligozoospermia, and to 27 % in normozoospermic males with one or more previous IVF failures. The clinical consequences are the production of abnormal spermatozoa that will produce a higher number of chromosomally abnormal embryos. The indications for a meiotic study in testicular biopsy are provided. Copyright © 2005 S. Karger AG.