Pre-harvest sprouting in its strict sense (germinative growth on the ear) obviously depends on the germinability of the grain. Several factors influence germinability but one of the most important is the condition of the grain itself with respect to dormancy. Clearly, the severity of sprouting is inversely related to the level of dormancy and if all grains were dormant during their development and maturation the sprouting problem (sensu stricto) would not exist. A full appreciation of the involvement of dormancy requires consideration of the following questions: (a) What is the nature of seed dormancy in cereals? (b) What factors cause dormancy - breakage and how do they operate? (c) What is the pattern of dormancy in developing and maturing grains? These questions will be addressed in this paper, drawing to some extent on our own studies of wheat and barley.