This study reports on the chromosome number and karyological characteristics of the endangered species of European crayfish, Astacus astacus and A. leptodactylus (Decapoda, Astacidae), both native to Croatian freshwater habitats. The karyotype of A. astacus and A. leptodactylus consists of 2n = 176 and 2n = 180 chromosomes, respectively. The haploid chromosome complement of A. astacus consists of 52 metacentric, 35 metacentric-submetacentric, and 1 acrocentric chromosomes. Fluorochrome staining with 4,6-diamino-2-phenylindole (DAPI) has revealed that the karyotypes of A. astacus and A. leptodactylus are characterized by large heterochromatic blocks located at centromeric and intercalary positions on the chromosomes. Interstitial heterochromatic blocks were more frequent in A. astacus than in A. leptodactylus. In both species pairing of chromosomes in meiosis was regular with the majority of bivalents in a ring- and a dumbbell-form. Fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) has revealed that two 45S rDNA loci were present in the investigated species. In A. astacus one of the two 45S rDNA-bearing chromosome pairs was highly heteromorphic, exhibiting a three-fold size difference between 45S rDNA sites on homologous chromosomes. Such a size difference was significantly less pronounced in A. leptodactylus. The karyotype differences between A. astacus and A. leptodactylus suggest changes in chromosome number as well as position of repetitive DNAs have played a role in the karyotype evolution of the species of Astacus.