We investigated the transferability of 31 soybean (Glycine max) simple sequence repeat (SSR) loci to wild congeners and to other legume genera. Up to 65% of the soybean primer pairs amplified SSRs within Glycine, but frequently, the SSRs were short and interrupted compared with those of soybeans. Nevertheless, 85% of the loci were polymorphic within G. clandestina. Cross-species amplification outside of the genus was much lower (3%-13%), with polymorphism restricted to one primer pair, AG81. AG81 amplified loci in Glycine, Kennedia, and Vigna (Phaseoleae), Vicia (Vicieae), Trifolium (Trifolieae), and Lupinus (Genisteae) within the Papilionoideae, and in Albizia within the Mimosoideae. The primer conservation at AG81 may be explained by its apparent proximity to the seryl-tRNA synthetase gene. Interspecific differences in allele size at AG81 loci reflected repeat length variation within the SSR region and indels in the flanking region. Alleles of identical size with different underlying sequences (size homoplasy) were observed. Our findings and the emerging patterns in other plant studies suggest that in contrast to animals, successful cross-species amplification of SSRs in plants is largely restricted to congeners or closely related genera. Because mutations in both the SSR region and the flanking region contribute to variation in allele size among species, knowledge of DNA sequence is essential before SSR loci can be meaningfully used to address applied and evolutionary questions.