The Cape Verde Islands are of volcanic origin with most having appeared between the early Miocene and mid-Pleistocene. They contain six known species of Mabuya skinks. Phylogeographical relationships within and among the relatively widespread taxa M. stangeri, M. spinalis and M. delalandii were inferred, based on ≈ 1 kbp of the cytochrome b gene (mitochondrial DNA). Reciprocal monophyly of M. spinalis and M. stangeri was established, which may have arisen from an early Pliocene/late Miocene cladogenetic event. Considerable between-island sequence divergence was detected among M. spinalis, which appears to have colonized the older islands (Sal and Boavista) first. Much lower sequence divergence was found in M. delalandii, indicating a more recent range expansion. Here, evidence points to colonization of the younger islands of Brava and Fogo soon after appearance. There are similarities between some of the described patterns and those seen in lizards from the Canary Islands.