Habitat fragmentation is a major force that will influence the evolution of a species and its distribution range. Pomatoschistus minutus, the sand goby, has a North Atlantic–Mediterranean distribution and shows various level of habitat fragmentation along its geographic repartition. The use of mitochondrial sequences of the cytochrome b (cyt b) gene and two co-dominant sets of nuclear markers (introns and microsatellites) allowed us to describe the relationships between P. minutus populations belonging to several different geographical regions of Europe and to assess the structure of populations inhabiting the Golfe du Lion, along the French Mediterranean coast. The present study confirms that the taxon located in the Adriatic Sea (Venice) should be considered as a distinct species, separated approximately 1.75 Mya. The comparison of P. minutus between the Atlantic and western Mediterranean coasts using polymorphic co-dominant markers revealed that they belong to two demographically independent units, and thus could be considered as well as distinct species, more recently separated (0.3 Mya). The Pleistocene glaciations seem therefore to have played an important role in the diversification of this complex. Finally, at a regional scale in the Golfe du Lion, P. minutus appears to form a single huge homogeneous population. © 2010 The Linnean Society of London, Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 2011, 102, 175–198.