The complete mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) control region (1043 base pairs) and 162-bp of flanking transfer RNA genes were sequenced in 316 European grayling, Thymallus thymallus, from 44 populations throughout the Western European range of the species. A total of 58 haplotypes were revealed with pairwise divergence ranging from 0.001 to 0.038. An inferred intraspecific phylogenetic tree revealed two well-supported clades within the Danube basin, one highly divergent clade in the Adriatic basin, and one large, diverse group representing most other populations. A deeply divergent haplotype fixed in the Loire basin in central France, more groups of haplotypes from distinct Danubian tributaries, and a relatively ancestral haplotype fixed in former tributaries of the Elbe in Denmark all suggest a complex pattern of interglacial and postglacial expansions originating from disjunct refugia throughout central Europe. Despite some evidence of human-mediated stock transfers, parsimony-network-based nested-clade analysis (NCA) supported specific inferences relating to corridors of postglacial expansion such as the lower Rhine (Moselle) and Elbe systems (Danish populations) serving as sources for expansion into the Baltic to the north as well as the upper Rhine and Danube to the south; and specific Rhine populations (Doller, Orbe and Reuss) serving as sources for colonization of the Rhone. The multiple divergent clades representing populations in the upper Danube, as well as the deeply divergent haplotypes found in the Adriatic and Loire basins (> 5% divergence from Asian outgroups) support the theory that European grayling have had a long history in Western Europe, pre-dating Pleistocene glacial cycles. The patterns of mtDNA divergence shown here support a perspective of rich inter- and intrabasin genetic diversity that should be protected from current trends to translocate brood stocks for rearing and release in response to declining populations, especially in southern European basins.