© 2015, Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht. Tolerance to waterlogging is an important breeding objective for barley (Hordeum vulgare L.); however, it is a complex quantitative trait. It is difficult to screen large numbers of lines in the field due to environmental variability, and it is also challenging to screen large numbers in controlled conditions if yield data are to be collected. The direct measurement of traits that contribute to waterlogging tolerance, such as aerenchyma development in roots, may offer advantages especially if molecular markers can be developed to screen breeding populations. A doubled haploid population from a cross between Franklin and YuYaoXiangTian Erleng was screened for adventitious root porosity (gas-filled volume per unit root volume) as an indicator of aerenchyma formation. A single QTL for root porosity was identified on chromosome 4H which explained 35.7 and 39.0 % of phenotypic variation in aerated and oxygen-deficient conditions, respectively. The nearest marker was EBmac0701. This QTL is located in the same chromosomal region that contributed to tolerance when the same population was screened in an earlier independent soil waterlogging experiment. Comparative mapping revealed that this QTL is syntenic with the Qaer1.02-3 QTL in maize and the Sub1A-1 gene in rice, which are associated with aerenchyma formation (maize) and submergence tolerance (rice), respectively. This is the first report of a QTL for root porosity in barley which elucidates a major mechanism of waterlogging tolerance.