The genetic population structure of Mediterranean horse mackerel, Trachurus mediterraneus, from seven locations throughout the Black, Marmara, Aegean and eastern Mediterranean seas was investigated using restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP) analysis of the mtDNA 16S rDNA region. An approximately 2000-bp segment was screened in 280 individuals using six restriction enzymes, resulting in 10 composite haplotypes. The most common haplotype was present in 56.42% individuals; the next most frequent haplotype was present in 22.85% individuals. Average haplotype diversity within samples was moderate (0.38), and nucleotide diversity was low (0.00435). Mean nucleotide divergence for the seven sampling sites was 0.0028. Nucleotide divergence among samples was moderate, with the highest value detected between the Aegean Sea (Izmir) and the eastern Black Sea (Trabzon) populations (0.007055), and the lowest (-0.000043) between the Marmara Sea (Adalar) and the western Black Sea (Sile) populations. In Monte Carlo pairwise comparisons of haplotype frequencies, the Sinop from the middle Black Sea, Trabzon from the eastern Black Sea, and Iskenderun Bay from the north-eastern Mediterranean Sea exhibited highly significant (P < 0.001) geographical differentiation from each other and from all other populations. Mantel's test indicated that the nucleotide divergence among populations of T. mediterraneus was not significantly associated with their geographical isolation (r = -0.2963; P > 0.05). Consequently, the mtDNA 16S rDNA region provided evidence for the existence of three distinct T. mediterraneus populations (Sinop, Trabzon and Iskenderun Bay) in the Black and north-eastern Mediterranean seas.