Analysis of 12 polymorphic simple sequence repeats identified in the genome sequence of Phytophthora ramorum, causal agent of 'sudden oak death', revealed genotypic diversity to be significantly higher in nurseries (91% of total) than in forests (18% of total). Our analysis identified only two closely related genotypes in US forests, while the genetic structure of populations from European nurseries was of intermediate complexity, including multiple, closely related genotypes. Multilocus analysis determined populations in US forests reproduce clonally and are likely descendants of a single introduced individual. The 151 isolates analysed clustered in three clades. US forest and European nursery isolates clustered into two distinct clades, while one isolate from a US nursery belonged to a third novel clade. The combined microsatellite, sequencing and morphological analyses suggest the three clades represent distinct evolutionary lineages. All three clades were identified in some US nurseries, emphasizing the role of commercial plant trade in the movement of this pathogen.