Some studies of mtDNA propose that contemporary Amerindians have descended from four haplotype groups, each defined by specific sets of polymorphisms. One recent study also found evidence of other potential founder haplotypes. We wanted to determine whether the four haplotypes in modern populations were also present in ancient South American aboriginals. We subjected mtDNA from Colombian mummies (470 to 1849 AD) to PCR amplification and restriction endonuclease analysis. The mtDNA D-loop region was surveyed for sequence variation by restriction analysis and a segment of this region was sequenced for each mummy to characterize the haplotypes. Our mummies exhibited three of the four major characteristic haplotypes of Amerindian populations defined by four markers. With sequence data obtained in the ancient samples and published data on contemporary Amerindians it was possible to infer the origin of these six mummies.