The genus Silene contains both hermaphrodite, gynodioecious and dioecious species, dioecy being represented in three sections of the genus. To locate the events of change of reproductive systems, we compared ITS sequences of 22 species of Silene chosen throughout the whole genus, and four putative outgroup species. Gynodioecy, which is the most common reproductive system within the genus Silene and in closely related genera such as Saponaria and Dianthus, is proposed to be ancestral in the genus. Dioecy has evolved at least twice: once in the section containing S. latifolia, and once in the clade containing S. otites and S. acaulis ssp. bryoides. Evolution towards hermaphroditism, associated with evolution of selfing, has also occurred at least twice, in S. gallica and S. conica.