In South and Central America, tens of thousands of hectares of oil palms (Elaeis guineensis Jacq.) are affected by bud-rot types of disease. Having destroyed entire estates in Panama, Colombia, Suriname, Brazil and Ecuador, they are holding back the development of oil palm cultivation in Latin America. The cause is unknown. Indeed, 30 years after these diseases first wreaked havoc on a large scale, it is still not known whether we are dealing with one or more diseases of infectious origin, or with a physiological disorder. Despite lengthy research launched in the early 1980s, no pathogens or insect vectors have been clearly identified. At present, genetics look likely to offer a solution in the medium- to long term, using traits of resistance transmitted by the native species on the American continent, Elaeis oleifera, to the interspecific hybrid E. oleifera×E. guineensis.