Interrelationships, origin and phylogenetic affinities of brown trout Salmo trutta populations from the southern Caspian Sea basin, Orumieh and Namak Lake basins in Iran were analysed from complete mtDNA control region sequences, 12 microsatellite loci and morphological characters. Among 129 specimens from six populations, seven haplotypes were observed. Based on mtDNA haplotype data, the Orumieh and southern Caspian populations did not differ significantly, but the Namak basin–Karaj population presented a unique haplotype closely related to the haplotypes of the other populations (0·1% Kimura two-parameter, K2P divergence). All Iranian haplotypes clustered as a distinct group within the Danube phylogenetic grouping, with an average K2P distance of 0·41% relative to other Danubian haplotypes. The Karaj haplotype in the Namak basin was related to a haplotype (Da26) formerly identified in the Tigris basin in Turkey, to a Salmo trutta oxianus haplotype from the Aral Sea basin, and to haplotype Da1a with two mutational steps, as well as to other Iranian haplotypes with one to two mutational steps, which may indicate a centre of origin in the Caspian basin. In contrast to results of the mtDNA analysis, more pronounced differentiation was observed among the populations studied in the morphological and microsatellite DNA data, except for the two populations from the Orumieh basin, which were similar, possibly due to anthropogenic causes.