The genetic basis for heat tolerance during reproductive development in snap bean was investigated in a heat-tolerant × heat-sensitive common bean cross. Parental, F1, F2, and backcross generations of a cross between the heat-tolerant snap bean breeding line `Cornell 503' and the heat-sensitive wax bean cultivar Majestic were grown in a high-temperature controlled environment (32 °C day/28 °C night), initiated prior to anthesis and continued through plant senescence. During flowering, individual plants of all generations were visually rated and scored for extent of abscission of reproductive organs. The distribution of abscission scores in segregating generations (F2 and backcrosses) indicated that a high rate of abscission in response to heat stress was controlled by a single recessive gene from `Majestic'. Abscission of reproductive organs is the primary determinant of yield under heat stress in many annual grain legumes; this is the first known report of single gene control of this reaction in common bean or similar legumes. Generation means analysis indicated that genetic variation among generations for pod number under heat stress was best explained by a six-parameter model that includes nonallelic interaction terms, perhaps the result of the hypothetical abscission gene interacting with other genes for pod number in the populations. A simple additive/dominance model accounted for genetic variance for seeds per pod. Dominance [h] and epistatic dominance × dominance [l] genetic parameters for yield components under high temperatures were the largest in magnitude. Results suggest `Cornell 503' can improve heat tolerance in sensitive cultivars, and heat tolerance in common bean may be influenced by major genes.