We assess variation in morphological and molecular characters among three species of Myosorex (the mouse shrew) –Myosorex geata, Myosorex kihaulei, and Myosorex zinki– as a means to test previously proposed biogeographic hypotheses for Tanzanian ‘sky islands’ and systematic hypotheses for Tanzanian mouse shrews. We analyse 17 cranial and dental variables using multivariate statistics and perform phylogenetic and phylogeographic analyses on sequences of mitochondrial and nuclear DNA; samples are drawn from every known Tanzanian population of Myosorex. Morphometric and phylogenetic analyses reveal that M. zinki is distinct, but that currently isolated populations of M. geata and M. kihaulei are relatively similar to one another, and may not have been isolated over geological time scales. Analyses of molecular variance identify statistically significant, but limited, genetic variation within and between isolated populations of M. geata and M. kihaulei. Between two putative regional biogeographic boundaries, greater genetic variation is explained by grouping populations on either side of the Ruaha River than by grouping populations on either side of the Makambako Gap. Our results are in agreement with recent studies illustrating the close relationship between faunas of the Southern Highlands and southern Eastern Arc Mountains, diminishing the apparent importance of the Makambako Gap as a historical biogeographic barrier. © 2010 The Linnean Society of London, Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 2010, 100, 669–680.