Perennial ryegrass is an obligate outbreeding pasture grass of the Poaceae family, with a two-locus (S and Z) gametophytic self-incompatibility (SI) mechanism. This system has provided a major obstacle to targeted varietal development, and enhanced knowledge is expected to support more efficient breeding strategies. Comparative genetics and physical mapping approaches have been developed to permit molecular cloning of the SI genes. SI gene-linked genetic markers based on heterologous cDNA restriction fragment length polymorphisms (RFLPs) and homologous genomic DNA-derived simple sequence repeats (SSRs) were converted to single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) format for efficient genotyping. Genetic mapping identified the location of SI loci and demonstrated macrosynteny between related grass species. S- and Z-linked bacterial artificial chromosome (BAC) clones were sequenced using massively parallel pyrosequencing technology to provide the first physical mapping data for Poaceae SI loci. The sequence assembly process suggested a lower prevalence of middle repetitive sequences in the Z locus region and hence precedence for positional cloning strategy. In silico mapping using data from rice, Brachypodium distachyon and Sorghum revealed high sequence conservation in the vicinity of the Z locus region between SI and self-compatible (SC) grass species. Physical mapping identified a total of nine genes encoded in the Z locus region. Expression profiling and nucleotide diversity assessment identified two Z-linked genes, LpTC116908 and LpDUF247, as plausible candidates for the male and female determinants of the S-Z SI system.