mtDNA haplotypes of representatives of the cosmopolitan peoples of north-central Mexico were studied. Two hundred twenty-three samples from individuals residing in vicinities of two localities in north-central Mexico were analyzed. A combination of strategies was employed to identify the origin of each haplotype, including length variation analysis of the COII and tRNALYS intergenic region, nucleotide sequence analysis of control region hypervariable segment 1, and RFLP analysis of PCR products spanning diagnostic sites. Analysis of these data revealed that the majority of the mtDNA haplotypes were of Native American origin, belonging to one of four primary Native American haplogroups. Others were of European or African origin, and the frequency of African haplotypes was equivalent to that of haplotypes of European derivation. These results provide diagnostic, discrete character, molecular genetic evidence that, together with results of previous studies of classical genetic systems, is informative with regard to both the magnitude of African admixture and the relative maternal contribution of African, European, and Native American peoples to the genetic heritage of Mexico. Phylogenetic analysis revealed that African sequences formed a basal, paraphyletic group.