ABSTRACT In this study we describe and illustrate pollen and spores that have been identified as significant in modern and fossil samples from the campos region of Uruguay. We provide new information about modern pollen assemblages and their relationship to the vegetation types of this region. We discuss the taxonomic limitations of pollen and spores and their representation in both modern and fossil samples. We highlight the importance of identifying both silent and key indicator taxa for making accurate paleoecological interpretations. We also emphasize the importance of knowing the pollination strategies of parental plants because many of them are zoophilous, and so small changes in the proportions of their pollen grains in fossil assemblages could reflect important changes in vegetation. This study presents a practical approach to paleoecological research, which not only produces robust results in studies of the campos region, but can be applied to other grassland ecosystems, including those in temperate regions.