Multiplex PCR amplification of microsatellites has significantly increased the throughput and decreased the costs of genotyping. We have developed two highly polymorphic microsatellite multiplexes for Populus euphratica, the only tree species found in desert regions of Western China and adjacent Central Asian countries. The first of these multiplex kits comprises an eight-Plex of genomic SSRs (gSSRs) obtained from published databases. The second comprises an eight-plex of newly designed EST-SSRs (eSSRs) based on expressed sequence tags for P. euphratica. Both kits were tested on a sample of 170 individuals from four populations. The gSSRs exhibited slightly more polymorphism than the eSSRs. The new multiplex protocols yielded consistent results in the hands of multiple researchers, demonstrating their robustness. The 16 loci used in the kits exhibited a high transferability rate (82.0%) in eight other poplar species belonging to five different sections of the genus. Both kits should therefore be useful for further investigations of population genetics in P. euphratica and related species. Our results indicate that it is essential to follow recently established recommendations when developing microsatellite markers, including verifying the amplification efficiency, detecting null alleles and carefully measuring error rates.