Genetic differentiation of 57 beech populations originating from a wide geographical space from the foothills of the Eastern Alps over the Balkan peninsula was investigated employing isozyme markers. Pooled datasets of European beech populations originating from four adjacent regions and Eastern beech populations originating from Thrace and Western Asia Minor were compared. Considerable differences of allele frequencies among regions were found in several marker loci. The highest level of genetic multiplicity and differentiation was found in the populations from the southern Balkans; however, the north-western populations showed higher genetic diversity. The pattern of genetic differentiation based on multilocus genetic distances is a clinal one. The populations belonging to the putative taxon Fagus moesiaca Czeczott seem to form an independent group. Three hypotheses of the evolutionary origin of this taxon are discussed: selection, introgressive hybridization and continuous evolution.