The bank vole (Clethrionomys glareolus) and the northern red-backed vole (C. rutilus) are two closely related species where interspecific crosses result in fertile female but sterile male offspring. Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) from C. rutilus has passed the species barrier and is found in C. glareolus from northern Fennoscandia. The present report shows that the genetic distance between the two species, calculated from enzyme data (Nei's D), is 0.64. Isoelectric focusing of muscle proteins resolved around 55 bands, of which each species had 6 or 7 bands not present in the other species. Sequence divergence of mtDNA from the two species is 13.9%. A comparison between protein and mtDNA distances in other species pairs reveals a high correlation between the two measures, indicating that differences in mtDNA between taxa are not random when compared to divergence in protein-coding nuclear genes. The relationship between genetic divergence in proteins and that in mtDNA between Clethrionomys glareolus and C. rutilus is similar to that found in other species pairs. It is also shown that despite large differences on the protein level it is still, in some cases, possible for species pairs to produce fertile hybrid females.