Sixty-four samples from 46 salmon populations totalling 2369 specimens were used for polymerase chain reaction–restriction fragment length polymorphism (PCR–RFLP) analysis of the mitochondrial ND1 region. The final analyses included 3095 specimens from 60 populations in Northern Europe. A subsample was analysed by RFLP of ND3/4/5/6. Representative RFLP haplotypes from different parts of the distribution area were sequenced and the phylogeny of European haplotypes and their relations to the North American lineage was described. The four common European haplotypes derive from the ancestral ND1-BBBA (rooting the European clade to the North American) by one-step substitutions: AAAA < AABA < BBBA > BBBB. The Swedish west-coast populations differ from the geographically close southern Baltic, indicating absence of inward and limited outward gene flow through the Danish straits during the last 8000 years. Within the Baltic Sea, only three ND1 haplotypes were detected and there was no variation for ND3/4/5/6. In the whole southern Baltic and in lakes Vänern, Ladoga and Onega the haplotype AABA dominated. Proposed postglacial colonization routes to the Baltic Sea are discussed in relation to the haplotype distribution pattern.