The term 'vernalization' describes the acceleration of the transition between the vegetative and reproductive stages after exposing plants to an extended period of low temperature. In Arabidopsis, vernalization promotes flowering by silencing the flowering repressor gene FLOWERING LOCUS C (FLC). Mitotically stable repression of FLC is the result of chromatin modifications mediated by the Vernalization-INsensitive 3 (VIN3) and VIN3-Like (VIL) proteins. In this study, we identified and characterized three VIL genes in diploid wheat (Triticum monococcum L.), named TmVIL1, TmVIL2, and TmVIL3. Similar to Arabidopsis VIN3, all three wheat VIL proteins carry three conserved domains including a plant homeodomain finger motif (PHD), a fibronectin type III domain (FNIII), and a VIN3 interacting domain (VID). Genetic mapping placed TmVIL1, TmVIL2, and TmVIL3 loci in the centromeric regions of chromosome 5, 6, and 1, respectively. The chromosome location of TmVIL1 is close to that of the vernalization gene VRN-D5, but more precise mapping information is required to validate this relationship. Transcription of the wheat VIL genes was up-regulated by vernalization, with a peak after 4-6 weeks of cold treatment. When transferred back to warm conditions, transcript levels of the wheat VIL genes returned to pre-vernalization levels. In addition, the transcript levels of wheat VIL genes are affected by photoperiod. This study indicates that wheat VIL genes have retained a similar structure and transcriptional regulation as their Arabidopsis VIN3/VIL homologues, suggesting that they might have retained some of their functions. © 2006 Springer-Verlag.