To prevent the decline of the brown hare Lepus europaeus, especially as a result of hunting pressure, restocking programmes, using hares from elsewhere, were carried out in Greece up to 2001. Using diagnostic RFLP mitochondrial DNA markers we traced the origins of released captive-bred brown hares. We provide evidence that released animals survived long enough to have at least one reproductive cycle and to transmit their genome. If, in the long-term, introgressed foreign genes survive, forming new genotypes with indigenous genes, this would demonstrate that they are successful in terms of competition. As nuclear gene pools are not markedly divergent between Greek and other European hares foreign nuclear genes should not be a serious handicap. Hence, in certain situations release programmes may be appropriate.