DNA sequencing was performed on up to 12 chloroplast DNA regions [giving a total of 4288 base pairs (bp) in length] from the allopolyploid Arabidopsis suecica (48 accessions) and its two parental species, A. thaliana (25 accessions) and A. arenosa (seven accessions). Arabidopsis suecica was identical to A. thaliana at all 93 sites where A. thaliana and A. arenosa differed, thus showing that A. thaliana is the maternal parent of A. suecica. Under the assumption that A. thaliana and A. arenosa separated 5 million years ago, we estimated a substitution rate of 2.9 x 10(-9) per site per year in noncoding single copy sequence. Within A. thaliana we found 12 substitution (single bp) and eight insertion/deletion (indel) polymorphisms, separating the 25 accessions into 15 haplotypes. Eight of the A. thaliana accessions from central Sweden formed one cluster, which was separated from a cluster consisting of central European and extreme southern Swedish accessions. This latter cluster also included the A. suecica accessions, which were all identical except for one 5 bp indel. We interpret this low level of variation as a strong indication that A. suecica effectively has a single origin, which we dated at 20 000 years ago or more.