Background Grass pollens are major triggers of allergic rhinitis and asthma, but the immunological relationships between pollen allergens of the subtropical Bahia grass, Paspalum notatum, and temperate grasses are unresolved. Objective To assess serum IgE cross-reactivity between subtropical P. notatum and temperate Lolium perenne (Ryegrass) pollen allergens. Methods Serum IgE reactivities of grass pollen-allergic patients with P. notatum, L. perenne and Cynodon dactylon (Bermuda grass) pollen extracts and their respective purified group 1 allergens, Pas n 1, Lol p 1 and Cyn d 1, were compared by immunoblotting, ELISA and basophil activation. Results In a cohort of 51 patients from a temperate region, a high frequency of IgE reactivity with each grass pollen was detected, but reactivity with L. perenne pollen was substantially greater than with P. notatum and C. dactylon pollen. Similarly, serum IgE reactivity with Lol p 1 was greater than with Pas n 1 or Cyn d 1. For seven of eight sera studied in detail, asymmetric serum IgE cross-reactivity was observed; L. perenne pollen inhibited IgE reactivity with P. notatum pollen but not the converse, and IgE reactivity with Pas n 1 was inhibited by Lol p 1 but IgE reactivity with Lol p 1 was not inhibited by Pas n 1 or Cyn d 1. Importantly, P. notatum pollen and Pas n 1 activated basophils in grass pollen-allergic patients from a temperate region, although stimulation was greater by pollen of L. perenne than P. notatum or C. dactylon, and by Lol p 1 than Pas n 1 or Cyn d 1. In contrast, a cohort of 47 patients from a subtropical region showed similar IgE reactivity with P. notatum and L. perenne pollen, and reciprocal cross-inhibition of IgE reactivity between L. perenne and P. notatum. Conclusions Pollen allergens of the subtropical P. notatum, including Pas n 1, show clinically relevant IgE cross-reactivity with pollen allergens of L. perenne but also species-specific IgE reactivity.