Genetic variability of Anatolian hares and relationships between Anatolian and European populations were assessed by a multilocus allozyme approach to infer evolutionary relationships between hares from Asia Minor and Europe. Of the 48 Loci assayed, 19 (39.6%) were polymorphic with two to four alleles in the Anatolian hares. Among all Anatolian alleles, 14 were so far not found in the compared 717 brown hares from Europe. Overall, genetic diversity was highest in Anatolian hares, intermediate in brown hares from the southern and southeastern Balkans and Lowest in central European populations. The rich genetic diversity in Anatolian hares might be a consequence of Anatolias biogeographic position with the chance of multiple gene flow from neighbouring regions, and the likelihood of tong-term presence of hares during the last ice age, when large parts of more northern Latitudes did not provide suitable habitats. However, among 28 Loci used for the comparison between European and Anatolian populations, most common alleles of European brown hares were also common in Anatolian populations and no alternately fixed alleles were found for Anatolian and European populations. This together with only little or moderately varying allele frequencies produced tow genetic divergence between Anatolian and European populations. Genetic differentiation among Anatolian populations was also Low. Even between the two forms with different coat colour (brownish and yellowish) in Anatolian hares, there was Little genetic differentiation. Altogether, all Anatolian hares studied presently are closely related to European brown hare populations, and only some distantly spaced population pairs revealed increased genetic divergence. (c) 2005 Elsevier GmbH. All rights reserved.