Oilseed rape (Brassica napus) is an important oilseed crop worldwide. Cultivars have been developed for many growing regions, however little is known about genetic diversity inB. napus germ plasm. The purpose of the research presented here was to study the genetic diversity and relationships ofB. napus accessions using restriction fragment length polymorphisms (RFLPs). Eighty threeB. napus accessions were screened using 43 genomic DNA clones which revealed 161 polymorphic fragments. Each accession was uniquely identified by the markers with the exception of the near-isogenic cvs 'Triton' and 'Tower'. The RFLP data were analyzed by cluster analysis of similarity coefficients and by principal component analysis. Overall, there were three major groups of cultivars. The first group included only spring accessions, the second mostly winter accessions and the third, rutabagas and oilseed rape accessions from China and Japan. These results indicate that withinB. napus, winter and spring cultivars represent genetically distinct groups. The grouping of accessions by cluster analysis was generally consistent with known pedigrees. This consistency included the grouping of lines derived both by backcrossing or self-pollination with their parents.