We have used polymorphic chloroplast simple-sequence repeats to analyse levels of genetic variation within and between seven native Scottish and eight mainland European populations of Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris L.). Diversity levels for the Scottish populations based on haplotype frequency were far in excess of those previously obtained using monoterpenes and isozymes and confirmed lower levels of genetic variation within the derelict population at Glen Falloch. The diversity levels were higher than those reported in similar studies in other Pinus species. An analysis of molecular variance (AMOVA) showed that small (3.24-8.81%) but significant (p < or = 0.001) portions of the variation existed between the populations and that there was no significant difference between the Scottish and the mainland European populations. Evidence of population substructure was found in the Rannoch population, which exhibited two subgroups. Finally, one of the loci studied exhibited an allele distribution uncharacteristic of the stepwise mutation model of evolution of simple-sequence repeats, and sequencing of the PCR products revealed that this was due to a duplication rather than slippage in the repeat region. An examination of the distribution of this mutation suggests that it may have occurred fairly recently in the Wester Ross region or that it may be evidence of a refugial population.