Distance analysis and factor analysis, based on Q-mode correlation coefficients, were applied to 23 craniofacial measurements in 1,802 recent and prehistoric crania from major geographical areas of the Old World. The major findings are as follows: 1) Australians show closer similarities to African populations than to Melanesians. 2) Recent Europeans align with East Asians, and early West Asians resemble Africans. 3) The Asian population complex with regional difference between northern and southern members is manifest. 4) Clinal variations of craniofacial features can be detected in the Afro-European region on the one hand, and Australasian and East Asian region on the other hand. 5) The craniofacial variations of major geographical groups are not necessarily consistent with their geographical distribution pattern. This may be a sign that the evolutionary divergence in craniofacial shape among recent populations of different geographical areas is of a highly limited degree. Taking all of these into account, a single origin for anatomically modern humans is the most parsimonious interpretation of the craniofacial variations presented in this study. © 1996 Wiley-Liss, Inc.