A gene pool consisting of 20 cultivars and nine selections was evaluated at the ITSC, Nelspruit, for use in the litchi breeding programme during 1994/95. The genotypes were evaluated for fruit yield, interior and exterior characteristics, morphological properties and interior quality. Implementation of the breeding programme involves the combination of favourable features of cultivars/selections by means of open and cross pollination to obtain new, adapted cultivars. Considerable variation was observed amongst the cultivars and selections. The availability of a variety of genotyes presents the opportunity to release a vast source of genetic variation through open pollination and planned cross pollination. The first fruits from bearing Phase I seedlings were evaluated for various characteristics, in the same way as the cultivars/selections in the gene pool. The seedlings demonstrated the considerable genetic diversity achieved through sexual reproduction.