The range of environmental sex determination and sex changes throughout plant taxa from bryophytes and pteridophytes to spermatophytes is reviewed. Lability in sex expression occurs in many plant taxa but only in homosporous pteridophytes is labile sex the rule. Among angiosperms, labile sex appears to be more common among dioecious and monoecious plants than among hermaphrodites. However, hermaphrodites can control allocation to male and female functions by varying the relative emphasis on pollen and ovules. A majority of plants with labile sex expression are perennials, which indicates that flexibility in sex is more important for species with long life cycles. Environmental stress, caused by less-than-optimal light, nutrition, weather or water conditions, often favours maleness. The extreme lability in the sex expression of homosporous pteridophytes is suggested to be related primarily to the mating systems.