This paper summarises published and unpublished data on the spatial and temporal distribution, and on the genetic characterisation of molecular forms M and S of Anopheles gambiae s.s. The two forms are characterised by a high level of gene-flow restriction, by a largely overlapping geographical and temporal distribution, and by a low degree of genetic differentiation. Floating paracentric inversions on chromosome-2 are shown to be shared by the two forms, although with very different frequencies of alternative arrangements, confirming that these inversions are most probably involved in ecotypic adaptation, rather than in the building of reproductive barriers. Further studies and tools are needed to throw light on the genetic and biological differentiation of M and S to improve the knowledge of the real composition of the vector system, of its demography, population genetics and dynamics, also in view of the possible consequences on the transmission of human pathogens in sub-Saharan Africa. Preliminary results and perspectives of the use of transposable element insertion sites as markers of genetic differentiation and tools for population genetic studies are discussed.