Genetic differentiation between three populations of the pied flycatcher Ficedula hypoleuca (Norway, Czech Republic and Spain, respectively) was investigated at microsatellite loci and mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) sequences and compared with the pattern of differentiation of male plumage colour. The Czech population lives sympatrically with the closely related collared flycatcher (F. albicollis) whereas the other two are allopatric. Allopatric populations are on average more conspicuously coloured than sympatric ones, a pattern that has been explained by sexual selection for conspicuous colour in allopatry and a character displacement on breeding plumage colour in sympatry that reduces the rate of hybridization with the collared flycatcher. The Czech population was genetically indistinguishable from the Norwegian population at microsatellite loci and mtDNA sequences. Recent isolation and/or gene flow may explain the lack of genetic differentiation. Accordingly, different selection on plumage colour in the two populations is either sufficiently strong so that gene flow has little impact on the pattern of colour variation, or differentiation of plumage colour occurred so recently that the (presumably) neutral, fast evolving markers employed here are unable to reflect the differentiation. Genetically, the Spanish population was significantly differentiated from the other populations, but the divergence was much more pronounced at mtDNA compared to microsatellites. This may reflect increased rate of differentiation by genetic drift at the mitochondrial, compared with the nuclear genome, caused by the smaller effective population size of the former genome. In accordance with this interpretation, a genetic pattern consistent with effects of small population size in the Spanish population (genetic drift and inbreeding) were also apparent at the microsatellites, namely reduced allelic diversity and heterozygous deficiency.