ABSTRACT The genetic structure of field populations of Mycosphaerella graminicola was determined across a hierarchy of spatial scales using restriction fragment length polymorphism markers. The hierarchical gene diversity analysis included 1,098 isolates from seven field populations. Spatial scales ranged from millimeters to thousands of kilometers, including comparisons within and among lesions, within and among fields, and within and among regions and continents. At the smallest spatial scale, microtransect sampling was used to determine the spatial distribution of 15 genotypes found among 158 isolates sampled from five individual lesions. Each lesion had two to six different genotypes including both mating types in four of the five lesions, but in most cases a lesion was composed of one or two genotypes that occupied the majority of the lesion, with other rare genotypes interspersed among the common genotypes. The majority (77%) of gene diversity was distributed within plots ranging from approximately 1 to 9 m(2) in size. Genotype diversity (G / N) within fields for the Swiss, Texas, and Israeli fields was high, ranging from 79 to 100% of maximum possible values. Low population differentiation was indicated by the low G(ST) values among populations, suggesting a corresponding high degree of gene flow among these populations. At the largest spatial scale, populations from Switzerland, Israel, Oregon, and Texas were compared. Population differentiation among these populations was low (G(ST) = 0.05), and genetic identity between populations was high. A low but significant correlation between genetic and geographic distance among populations was found (r = -0.47, P = 0.012), suggesting that these populations probably have not reached an equilibrium between gene flow and genetic drift. Gene flow on a regional level can be reduced by implementing strategies, such as improved stubble management that minimize the production of ascospores. The possibility of high levels of gene flow on a regional level indicates a significant potential risk for the regional spread of mutant alleles that enable fungicide resistance or the breakdown of resistance genes.