The transition zone between the Mediterranean and Atlantic basins has been extensively addressed in phylogeographical studies of marine species. However, biases exist towards the analysis of highly dispersive species, and there is a higher sampling effort in European coasts compared to North Africa. This may be hindering a detailed understanding of the historical and contemporary processes that shaped patterns of population genetic structure in the region. In the present study, we investigated the phylogeographical and phylogenetic patterns of mitochondrial cytochrome c oxidase subunit I sequences from a species with direct development and low dispersal abilities, Stenosoma nadejda (Rezig, 1989). The study area included 13 localities along the Atlantic and Mediterranean North African coasts, as well as the Alboran Sea. A new Stenosoma species, from the coasts of Algeria and Alboran Island, was discovered. For S. nadejda, phylogeographical analyses revealed three distinct clades: one in the Iberian Atlantic plus the Alboran Sea, one in the western Mediterranean, and another in the Atlantic coast of Africa. Haplotypes from the Alboran Island were more related to those from the western Mediterranean coast (east of the Almeria–Oran Front). Given the strong differentiation, it is probable that this species survived in multiple glacial refugia during the Pleistocenic glaciations. © 2011 The Linnean Society of London, Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 2011, 104, 419–431.