The mitochondrial DNA variation was screened in a sample of 50 unrelated individuals of the Vietnamese population originating from Hanoi. A combination of long and standard PCR and restriction endonuclease digests with the enzymes HpaI, BamHI, HaeII, MspI, AvaII and HincII were used to reveal mtDNA variation. Twenty enzyme morphs were detected, three of which (HaeII-13Viet, MspI-19Viet and MspI-20Viet) are new and are produced by a single mutational event in already known enzyme morphs. Ten already known and four new mitotypes [93Viet (1-1-2-4-1), 94Viet (2-1-13Viet-1-1), 95Viet (2-1-13Viet-19Viet-1) and 96Viet (1-1-2–20Viet-12)] were found in the Vietnamese population. The 9-bp deletion occurring in the COII/tRNALys region of the mitochondrial genome was also analysed and 10 samples were found to have this deletion. The comparison of the Vietnamese with other East Asian populations showed a close genetic relationship of the population under investigation with other Orientals. However, the Vietnamese population can be differentiated by the significantly higher frequency of the enzyme morph HincII-5 and by seven new markers. These results strongly support the hypothesis of a dual ethnic origin of the Vietnamese population from the Chinese and Thai–Indonesian populations based on HLA markers and linguistic evidence.