For the first time, using chromosome engineering of durum wheat, the underlying genetic determinants of a yield-improving segment from Thinopyrum ponticum (7AgL) were dissected. Three durum wheat-Th. ponticum near-isogenic recombinant lines (NIRLs), with distal portions of their 7AL arm (fractional lengths 0.77, 0.72, and 0.60) replaced by alien chromatin, were field-tested for two seasons under rainfed conditions. Yield traits and other agronomic characteristics of the main shoot and whole plant were measured. Loci for seed number per ear and per spikelet were detected in the proximal 7AgL segment (0.60-0.72). Loci determining considerable increases of flag leaf width and area, productive tiller number per plant, biomass per plant, and grain yield per plant were located in the distally adjacent 0.72-0.77 7AgL segment, while in the most distal portion (0.77-1.00) genetic effects on spikelet number per ear were identified. Contrary to previous reports, trials with the bread wheat T4 translocation line, carrying on 7DL a sizeable 7AgL segment of which those present in the durum wheat-Th. ponticum NIRLs represent fractions, gave no yield advantage. The hypothesis that ABA might be a factor contributing to the 7AgL effects was tested by analysing endogenous ABA contents of the NIRLs and their responses to exogenous ABA application. The 7AgL yield-related loci were shown to be ABA-independent. This study highlights the value of wheat-alien recombinant lines for dissecting the genetic and physiological basis of complex traits present in wild germplasm, and provides a basis for their targeted exploitation in wheat breeding.