Genome duplications may have played a role in the early stages of vertebrate evolution, near the time of divergence of the lamprey lineage. Additional genome duplication, specifically in ray-finned fish, may have occurred before the divergence of the teleosts. The common carp (Cyprinus carpio) has been considered tetraploid because of its chromosome number (2n = 100) and its high DNA content. We studied variation using 59 microsatellite primer pairs to better understand the ploidy level of the common carp. Based on the number of PCR amplicons per individual, about 60% of these primer pairs are estimated to amplify duplicates. Segregation patterns in families suggested a partially duplicated genome structure and disomic inheritance. This could suggest that the common carp is tetraploid and that polyploidy occurred by hybridization (allotetraploidy). From sequences of microsatellite flanking regions, we estimated the difference per base between pairs of alleles and between pairs of paralogs. The distribution of differences between paralogs had two distinct modes suggesting one whole-genome duplication and a more recent wave of segmental duplications. The genome duplication was estimated to have occurred about 12 MYA, with the segmental duplications occurring between 2.3 and 6.8 MYA. At 12 MYA, this would be one of the most recent genome duplications among vertebrates. Phylogenetic analysis of several cyprinid species suggests an evolutionary model for this tetraploidization, with a role for polyploidization in speciation and diversification.