The deterioration in the quality of ex situ conserved seed over time reflects a combination of both physical andchemical changes. Intraspecific variation for longevity is, at least in part, under genetic control. Here, the grain of 183bread wheat accessions maintained under low-temperature storage at the IPK-Gatersleben genebank over somedecades have been tested for their viability, along with that of fresh grain subjected to two standard artificial ageingprocedures. A phenotype–genotype association analysis, conducted to reveal the genetic basis of the observedvariation between accessions, implicated many regions of the genome, underling the genetic complexity of the trait.Some, but not all, of these regions were associated with variation for both natural and experimental ageing, implyingsome non-congruency obtains between these two forms of testing for longevity. The genes underlying longevityappear to be independent of known genes determining dormancy and pre-harvest sprouting.