To determine the origins of laboratory mice, the restriction patterns of mitochondrial DNAs (mtDNAs) from various strains were compared with those of relevant subspecies and/or races of Mus musculus. In most strains and substrains of laboratory mice examined (50/55), the cleavage patterns were identical to those of the European subspecies M. m. domesticus. Those that varied include two sublines of NZB, the strain NZC, and the Japanese strain RR. The NZB and NZC patterns were identical to that of the European subspecies M. m. brevirostris, which itself has restriction patterns similar to M. m. domesticus. On the other hand, the RR pattern was identical to M. m. molossinus-like mice trapped in Western China and slightly different from Japanese M. m. molossinus. These findings suggest that the strains NZB and NZC stemmed from a European founder stock which differed from the ancestral stocks of other laboratory strains and that the ancestral mice of the RR strain had been transported from China to Japan. Therefore, most laboratory strains of mice are derived from the European subspecies M. m. domesticus while M. m. brevirostris and M. m. molossinus have made minor contributions. M. m. musculus does not appear to have made any contribution.