The objective of the present study was to examine the properties of a set of single-copy Y-STR loci to assess their suitability for forensic casework in three South African populations. Three criteria were used to select markers for assessment. Firstly, the single-copy markers of the minimal haplotype were selected based on their established use in forensic studies. Secondly, 8 markers were selected on the basis of high gene diversity values reported for several population studies, and thirdly 19 markers were chosen from a survey of Y-chromosome sequence with selections made primarily on the basis of the number of repeated elements present. Samples were typed from 101 English-speaking Caucasians, 88 Xhosa individuals and 77 Asian Indians. Gene diversity values, the number of alleles identified and the average stutter was determined for each locus.