The aims of this study were to assess the genetic diversity of 17 populations of Vietnamese local chickens (VNN) and one Red Jungle Fowl population, together with six chicken populations of Chinese origin (CNO), and to provide priorities supporting the conservation of genetic resources using 20 microsatellites. Consequently, the VNN populations exhibited a higher diversity than did CNO populations in terms of number of alleles but showed a slightly lower observed heterozygosity. The VNN populations showed in total seven private alleles, whereas no CNO private alleles were found. The expected heterozygosity of 0.576 in the VNN populations was higher than the observed heterozygosity of 0.490, leading to heterozygote deficiency within populations. This issue could be partly explained by the Wahlund effect due to fragmentation of several populations between chicken flocks. Molecular analysis of variance showed that most of genetic variation was found within VNN populations. The Bayesian clustering analysis showed that VNN and CNO chickens were separated into two distinct groups with little evidence for gene flow between them. Among the 24 populations, 13 were successfully assigned to their own cluster, whereas the structuring was not clear for the remaining 11 chicken populations. The contributions of 24 populations to the total genetic diversity were mostly consistent across two approaches, taking into account the within- and between-populations genetic diversity and allelic richness. The black H'mong, Lien Minh, Luong Phuong and Red Jungle Fowl were ranked with the highest priorities for conservation according to Caballero and Toro's and Petit's approaches. In conclusion, a national strategy needs to be set up for Vietnamese chicken populations, with three main components: conservation of high-priority breeds, within-breed management with animal exchanges between flocks to avoid Wahlund effect and monitoring of inbreeding rate.