The effect of varied zinc (Zn) supply on shoot and root dry matter production, severity of Zn deficiency symptoms and Zn tissue concentrations was studied in two Triticum turgidum (BBAA) genotypes and three synthetic hexaploid wheat genotypes by growing plants in a Zn-deficient calcareous soil under greenhouse conditions with (+Zn=5 mg kg(-1) soil) and without (-Zn) Zn supply. Two synthetic wheats (BBAADD) were derived from two different Aegilops tauschii (DD) accessions using same Triticum turgidum (BBAA), while one synthetic wheat (BBAAAA) was derived from Triticum turgidum (BBAA) and Triticum monococcum (AA). Visible symptoms of Zn deficiency, such as occurrence of necrotic patches on leaves and reduction in shoot elongation developed more rapidly and severely in tetraploid wheats than in synthetic hexaploid wheats. Correspondingly, decreases in shoot and root dry matter production due to Zn deficiency were higher in tetraploid wheats than in synthetic hexaploid wheats. Transfer of the DD genome from Aegilops tauschii or the AA genome from Triticum monococcum to tetraploid wheat greatly improved root and particularly shoot growth under Zn-deficient, but not under Zn-sufficient conditions. Better growth and lesser Zn deficiency symptoms in synthetic hexaploid wheats than in tetraploid wheats were not accompanied by increases in Zn concentration per unit dry weight, but related more to the total amount of Zn per shoot, especially in the case of synthetic wheats derived from Aegilops tauschii. This result indicates higher Zn uptake capacity of synthetic wheats. The results demonstrated that the genes for high Zn efficiency from Aegilops tauschii (DD) and Triticum monococcum (AA) are expressed in the synthetic hexaploid wheats. These wheat relatives can be used as valuable sources of genes for improvement of Zn efficiency in wheat.