Data from 1393 unrelated individuals have been compiled from eight population groups: African Americans, Africans (Sierra Leone), U.S. Caucasians, Austrians, French, Hispanics, Japanese, and Asian Americans. The majority of the mtDNA sequences were observed only once within each population group (i.e., ranging from a low of 60.3% (35/58) of the Asian American sequences to a high of 85.3% (93/109) of the French sequences). Genetic diversity ranged from 0.990 in the African sample to 0.998 in African Americans. Random match probability ranged from 2.50% in the Asian American sample to 0.52% in U.S. Caucasians. The average number of nucleotide differences between individuals in a database is greatest for the African American and African samples (14.1 and 13.1, respectively), and the least variable are the Caucasians (ranging from 7.2 to 8.4). Substitutions are the predominate polymorphism, and at least 92% of the substitutions are transitions. The most prevalent transversions are As substituted for Cs and Cs substituted for As. For most population groups these transversions occurred predominately in the HVI region; however, the African, African American, and Hispanic samples also demonstrated a large portion of their C to A and A to C transversions in the HVII region (at sites 186 and/or 189). Most insertions occur in the HVII region at sites 309.1 and 315.1, within a stretch of C's. Insertions of an additional C are common in all population groups. The sequence data were converted to SSO mtDNA types and compared with population data on Caucasians, Africans, Asians, Japanese, and Mexicans described by Stoneking et al. [M. Stoneking, D. Hedgecock, R.G. Higuchi, L. Vigilant, H.A. Erlich, Population variation of human mtDNA control region sequences detected by enzymatic amplification and sequence-specific oligonucleotide probes, Am. J. Hum. Genet. 48 (1991) 370-382] using an R x C contingency table test. Differences between major population groups (i.e., between African, Caucasian, and Asian) are quite evident, and similar ethnic population groups carried similar SSO polymorphism frequencies. There were only a few SSO types that showed significant differences between subpopulation groups. The SSO data alone can not be used to describe the population genetics with complete sequence data. However, the results of the SSO comparisons are similar to other analyses, and differences in sequence data in regions HVI and HVII are greater between major population groups than between subgroups.