Polyploidization is an important process in the evolutionary history of most eukaryotic species. It oftentimes causes large-scale genomic reorganizations and is accompanied by a wide variety of phenotypic alterations in morphology, niche preference and fitness characteristics. Despite their importance, the morphological effects of alterations in ploidy are not well understood. We investigated these changes in four diverse maize inbred lines, using monoploid, diploid, triploid and tetraploid derivatives, measuring 13 characters in a randomized field study. Employing several analysis of variance approaches, we find that all characters investigated strongly respond to alterations in ploidy. This response appears to have two sources: one source is shared by all inbred lines and constitutes a common response to ploidy change. The other source is genotype specific and results in a response to ploidy change that varies among inbred lines. This finding demonstrates the existence of genetic variation for the morphological response to ploidy change in Zea mays. © 2006 Springer-Verlag.