Mitochondrial 16S (~550 bp) and cytochrome oxidase I (COI) (~700 bp) sequences were utilized as markers to reconstruct a phylogeography for representative populations or biotypes of Bemisia tabaci. 16S sequences exhibited less divergence than COI sequences. Of the 429 characters examined for COI sequences, 185 sites were invariant, 244 were variable and 108 were informative. COI sequence identities yielded distances ranging from less than 1% to greater than 17%. Whitefly 16S sequences of 456 characters were analysed which consisted of 298 invariant sites, 158 variable sites and 53 informative sites. Phylogenetic analyses conducted by maximum parsimony, maximum-likelihood and neighbour-joining methods yielded almost identical phylogenetic reconstructions of trees that separated whiteflies based on geographical origin. The 16S and COI sequence data indicate that the B-biotype originated in the Old World (Europe, Asia and Africa) and is most closely related to B-like variants from Israel and Yemen, with the next closest relative being a biotype from Sudan. These data confirm the biochemical, genetic and behavioural polymorphisms described previously for B. tabaci. The consideration of all global variants of B. tabaci as a highly cryptic group of sibling species is argued.