We consider the role of generalist Diptera in the pollination of two dioecious plant species, Clematis ligusticifolia Nutt. (Ranunculaceae) and Shepherdia canadensis (L.) Nutt. (Elaeagnaceae). In particular, we assess (i) whether or not generalist pollinators are unable to distinguish between the sexes of dioecious species and so visit the sexes at equivalent rates, and (ii) the number of flowers that generalist flies visit and revisit during a foraging bout, which would affect self-pollination if plants were hermaphroditic. We determined the visitation rate to each plant species during 10 min periods and recorded the number of flowers that individual pollinators visited and revisited per foraging bout. Diptera were the main pollinators, visiting both sexes at similar rates for both plant species. The main visitors to C. ligusticifolia were muscoid flies (small and large), Culicidae, and halictid bees. The number of flowers visited in this species varied with pollinator group, but groups did not differ in the frequency of revisits. Visitors to S. canadensis were primarily Syrphidae and Empididae. Neither the number of flowers visited nor the number of revisits differed between these two pollinator groups. The results for each plant species are discussed and contrasted, particularly with other studies of the behaviour of generalist and specialist pollinators. We compare the observed pollinator behaviours, and their implications for plant mating, with the various theories of the role of pollinators in the evolution of the dioecious breeding system in plants.