Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) control-region (CR) sequences were analysed to address three questions regarding the evolution of geographical variation in song sparrows. (i) Are mtDNA sequences more informative about phylogenetic relationships and population history than previously published restriction fragment (RFLP) data? (ii) Are song sparrow CR sequences evolving in a selectively neutral manner? (iii) What do the haplotype cladogram and geographical pattern of nucleotide diversity (π) suggest about the recent evolutionary history of song sparrow populations? Results from phylogenetic analyses of CR sequences corroborate RFLP results and reveal instances in which haplotypes do not group by locality. Neutrality tests (Tajima 1989a) suggest that song sparrow mtDNA is evolving in a selectively neutral manner, although exceptions are noted. A novel geographical pattern of π suggests a model of song sparrow population history involving multiple Pleistocene refugia and colonization of some formerly glaciated regions from multiple sources. Moreover, application of coalescence theory to the haplotype cladogram suggests that two different haplotypes (48NF and 151HA) may have predominated in different parts of the song sparrow's range. This model provides insight into the current distribution of song sparrow mtDNA haplotypes and may explain the discordance between evolutionary history inferred from mtDNA and morphology in this species.