Deschampsia antarctica Desv. (Poaceae) (2n = 26) is one of the two vascular plants adapted to the harshest environment of the Antarctic. Although the species is a valuable model for study of environmental stress tolerance in plants, its karyotype is still poorly investigated. We firstly conducted a comprehensive molecular cytogenetic analysis of D. antarctica collected on four islands of the Maritime Antarctic. D. antarctica karyotypes were studied by Giemsa C- and DAPI/C-banding, Ag-NOR staining, multicolour fluorescence in situ hybridization with repeated DNA probes (pTa71, pTa794, telomere repeats, pSc119.2, pAs1) and the GAA simple sequence repeat probe. We also performed sequential rapid in situ hybridization with genomic DNA of D. caespitosa. Two chromosome pairs bearing transcriptionally active 45S rDNA loci and five pairs with 5S rDNA sites were detected. A weak intercalary site of telomere repeats was revealed on the largest chromosome in addition to telomere hybridization signals at terminal positions. This fact confirms indirectly the hypothesis that chromosome fusion might have been the cause of the unusual for cereals chromosome number in this species. Based on patterns of distribution of the examined molecular cytogenetic markers, all chromosomes in karyotypes were identified, and chromosome idiograms of D. antarctica were constructed. B chromosomes were found in most karyotypes of plants from Darboux Island. A mixoploid plant with mainly triploid cells bearing a Robertsonian rearrangement was detected among typical diploid specimens from Great Jalour Island. The karyotype variability found in D. antarctica is probably an expression of genome instability induced by environmental stress factors. The differences in C-banding patterns and in chromosome distribution of rDNA loci as well as homologous highly repeated DNA sequences detected between genomes of D. antarctica and its related species D. caespitosa indicate that genome reorganization involving coding and noncoding repeated DNA sequences had occurred during the divergence of these species.