© 2018 The Author(s). The regulation of parental genome dosage is of fundamental importance in animals and plants, as exemplified by X-chromosome inactivation and dosage compensation. The 'triploid block' is a classic example of dosage regulation in plants that establishes a reproductive barrier between species differing in chromosome number 1,2 . This barrier acts in the embryo-nourishing endosperm tissue and induces the abortion of hybrid seeds through a yet unknown mechanism 3 . Here we show that depletion of paternal epigenetically activated small interfering RNAs (easiRNAs) bypasses the triploid block in response to increased paternal ploidy in Arabidopsis thaliana. Paternal loss of the plant-specific RNA polymerase IV suppressed easiRNA formation and rescued triploid seeds by restoring small-RNA-directed DNA methylation at transposable elements (TEs), correlating with reduced expression of paternally expressed imprinted genes (PEGs). Our data suggest that easiRNAs form a quantitative signal for paternal chromosome number and that their balanced dosage is required for post-fertilization genome stability and seed viability.