Detailed studies on kin structure, mating patterns and dispersal in social insects require highly polymorphic markers, of which the most commonly used today are DNA microsatellites. Here we characterize 10 polymorphic microsatellite markers for the ant Plagiolepis pygmaea. We also investigated the within-genus applicability of the markers on P. xene, a social parasite of the source species. In addition, we tested amplification of the markers in three species of the genera Formica and Lasius. Eight of the markers also amplified in P. xene and were polymorphic. Seven markers amplified in at least one other formicine ant.