Abstract The conservation status of the five genera and 11 species of palm endemic to the Mascarene Islands (Mauritius, La Réunion and Rodriques) are reviewed. All species are threatened with extinction; nine taxa are classified as Critically Endangered and four as Endangered on the 2000 IUCN Red List. Two taxa survive as single wild specimens (Hyophorbe amaricaulis and Dictyosperma album var. conjugatum); an additional seven taxa have wild populations of 100 or fewer. Although the historical phase of large-scale forest clearance has passed, the remaining palm populations in the Mascarenes are under threat from the effects of population fragmentation, invasive plants and animals, and high levels of seed predation that prevent natural regeneration. The advantages of in situ management for the recovery of these palm populations are discussed. Without a long-term conservation programme, utilising both in situ and ex situ management, extinction of wild populations will occur.