The northern Swedish population has a history of admixture of three ethnic groups and a dramatic population growth from a relatively small founder population. This has resulted in founder effects that together with unique resources for genealogical analyses provide excellent conditions for genetic mapping of monogenic diseases. Several recent examples of successful mapping of genetic factors underlying susceptibility to complex diseases have suggested that the population of northern Sweden may also be an important tool for efficient mapping of more complex phenotypes. A potential factor contributing to these effects may be population sub-isolates within the large river valleys, constituting a central geographic characteristic of this region. We here provide evidence that marriage patterns as well as the distribution of gene frequencies in a set of marker loci are compatible with this notion. The possible implications of this population structure on linkage- and association based strategies for identifying genes contributing risk to complex diseases are discussed.