Association mapping has been used increasingly in natural populations with rich genetic diversity to detect DNA-based markers that are associated with important agronomic traits. Brassica napus is an important oil crop with limited genetic diversity. "New-type" B. napus that is introgressed with subgenomic components from related species has been developed to broaden the genetic basis of "traditional" B. napus. In this study, new-type B. napus lines and a collection of traditional B. napus varieties from different countries were used as two different populations to evaluate seed oil content and to determine the efficacy of association mapping by comparison with previous study of linkage mapping. Relatively rich genetic diversity, but a higher level of linkage disequilibrium was observed in the new-type B. napus as compared with the traditional B. napus. Similarly, a larger variation in oil content and a greater number of associated markers were detected in the population of new-type B. napus. Meanwhile, more than half of the genetic loci, to which the associated markers corresponded, were located within the quantitative trait loci intervals identified previously in linkage mapping experiments, which demonstrated the power of association mapping in B. napus.