Pink salmon Oncorhynchus gorbuscha from odd and even year generations in rivers of Sakhalin Island, Kuril Island, Kamchatka Peninsula, and Alaska were investigated with five informative restriction endonucleases for mtDNA variation. The odd and even generations from the same rivers of South Sakhalin differed greatly. The time of divergence between the two broodlines was estimated at 0.9-1.1 Myr. The variability of mtDNA in odd year generations was higher than in even year generations and may have been due to‘ founder’ and/or‘ bottleneck’ effects. The differences among river populations within the Sakhalin region in 1991-1993 were not significant and this confirms the highly migratory nature of pink compared with other Pacific salmon. The mtDNA samples revealed statistically significant differences between regions. The northern populations (Kamchatka, Alaska) were less diverse in number and frequency of haplotypes than the southern populations (Sakhalin). This suggests that pink salmon originated in the Sakhalin-Kuril region and that a founder effect during the spread of this species may have restricted the mtDNA variability in other regions.