Previous genetic studies using neutral markers such as allozymes, mtDNA and minisatellite loci have demonstrated varying amounts of population structure in cod Gadus morhua throughout the Atlantic. Microsatellite loci, which are potentially the most informative of presently available neutral genetic markers, have been applied extensively within western and eastern Atlantic areas but not on a range-wide basis. In the present study, six microsatellite DNA loci were used to screen cod samples from nine locations throughout the geographic range from the Scotian Shelf in the West Atlantic to the Barents and Baltic Seas in the east. Overall FST value was 0·03 (P= < 0·001) across all samples. Statistically significant population differences over all loci combined were evident between more geographically distant samples, using either heterogeneity tests or FST analysis, with at least one locus showing significant differences between all samples (prior to Bonferroni correction). A significant correlation was observed between genetic and geographical distance, suggesting a higher level of historical and contemporary gene flow between adjacent populations than more distant populations. Samples from either end of the geographic range (Scotian Shelf and Baltic Sea) were particularly distinct when analysed using the STRUCTURE programme and also showed a high level of self-assignment when individuals of either the Scotian Shelf or Baltic Sea were tested against the entire data set. The present microsatellite study demonstrates a high level of geographic population structure between the western Atlantic, middle and eastern Atlantic and Baltic Sea, and thus, the findings should be useful in devising overall management and conservation strategies for the species.