Mate recognition systems (MRSs) play a major role in sexual selection and speciation, yet few studies have analysed both male and female components in detail. Here, female preference functions have been characterized for the tettigoniid bushcricket Ephippiger ephippiger, and the inheritance of male song and female preference functions followed in crosses between subspecies. Songs are disproportionately determined by sex–linked genes. However, there is no evidence for a role of maternally derived sex–linked genes in female preference or of maternal effects. At the genetic level, there is a mismatch between peak preferences and male song, consistent with an evolutionary history of persistent directional preferences. Such a pattern of inheritance could contribute to the process of speciation via the evolution of new MRSs.