BACKGROUND: Rapid advances in genomics have provided nearly complete genome sequences for many different species. However, no matter how the sequencing technology has improved, natural genetic polymorphism complicates the production of high quality reference genomes. To address this problem, researchers have tried using artificial modes of genome manipulation such as gynogenesis for fast production of inbred lines.RESULTS: Here, we present the first successful induction of diploid gynogenesis in an evolutionary model system, the three-spined sticklebacks (Gasterosteus aculeatus), using a combination of UV-irradiation of the sperm and heat shock (HS) of the resulting embryo to inhibit the second meiotic division. Optimal UV irradiation of the sperm was established by exposing stickleback sperm to a UV- light source at various times. Heat shock parameters like temperature, duration, and time of initiation were tested by subjecting eggs fertilized with UV inactivated sperm 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, or 30 minutes post fertilization (mpf) to 30degreesC, 34degreesC, or 38degreesC for 2, 4, 6 or 8 minutes. Gynogen yield was highest when stickleback eggs were activated with 2 minutes UV-irradiated sperm and received HS 5 mpf at 34degreesC for 4 minutes.CONCLUSIONS: Diploid gynogenesis has been successfully performed in three-spined stickleback. This has been confirmed by microsatellite DNA analysis which revealed exclusively maternal inheritance in all gynogenetic fry tested. Ploidy verification by flow cytometry showed that gynogenetic embryos/larvae exhibiting abnormalities were haploids and those that developed normally were diploids, i.e., double haploids that can be raised until adult size.