222 cultivated (Vitis vinifera) and 22 wild (V. vinifera ssp. sylvestris) grape accessions were analysed for genetic diversity and differentiation at eight microsatellite loci. A total of 94 alleles were detected, with extensive polymorphism among the accessions. Multivariate relationships among accessions revealed 16 genetic groups structured into three clusters, supporting the classical eco-geographic grouping of grape cultivars: occidentalis, pontica and orientalis. French cultivars appeared to be distinct and showed close affinity to the wild progenitor, ssp. sylvestris from south-western France (Pyrenees) and Tunisia, probably reflecting the origin and domestication history of many of the old wine cultivars from France. There was appreciable level of differentiation between table and wine grape cultivars, and the Muscat types were somewhat distinct within the wine grapes. Contingency chi2 analysis indicated significant heterogeneity in allele frequencies among groups at all loci. The observed heterozygosities for different groups ranged from 0.625 to 0.9 with an overall average of 0.771. Genetic relationships among groups suggested hierarchical differentiation within cultivated grape. The gene diversity analysis indicated narrow divergence among groups and that most variation was found within groups (approximately 85%). Partitioning of diversity suggested that the remaining variation is somewhat structured hierarchically at different levels of differentiation. The overall organization of genetic diversity suggests that the germplasm of cultivated grape represents a single complex gene pool and that its structure is determined by strong artificial selection and a vegetative mode of reproduction.