In this paper, we investigated the genetic structure and distribution of allelic frequencies at the gametophytic self-incompatibility locus in three populations of Prunus avium L. In line with theoretical predictions under balancing selection, genetic structure at the self-incompatibility locus was almost three times lower than at seven unlinked microsatellites. Furthermore, we found that S-allele frequencies in wild cherry populations departed significantly from the expected isoplethic distribution towards which balancing selection is expected to drive allelic frequencies (i.e. identical frequency equal to the inverse of the number of alleles in the population). To assess whether this departure could be caused either by drift alone or by population structure, we used numerical simulations to compare our observations with allelic frequency distributions expected : (1) within a single deme from a subdivided population with various levels of differentiation; and (2) within a finite panmictic population with identical allelic diversity. We also investigated the effects of sample size and degree of population structure on tests of departure from isoplethic equilibrium. Overall, our results showed that the observed allele frequency distributions were consistent with a model of subdivided population with demes linked by moderate migration rate.