The complete nucleotide sequence of the mitochondrial genome of the white rhinoceros, Ceratotherium simum, was determined. The length of the reported sequence is 16,832 nucleotides. This length can vary, however, due to pronounced heteroplasmy caused by differing numbers of a repetitive motif (5'-CG-CATATACA-3') in the control region. The 16,832 nucleotide sequence presented here is the longest version of the molecule and contains 35 copies of this motif. Comparison between the complete mitochondrial sequences of the white and the Indian (Rhinoceros unicornis) rhinoceroses allowed an estimate of the date of the basal evolutionary divergence among extant rhinoceroses. The calculation suggested that this divergence took place approximately 27 million years before present.