Randomly amplified polymorphic DNA (RAPD) markers were used to analyse genetic diversity within and between Hordeum spontaneum populations sampled from Israel. Nei's index of genetic differentiation was used to partition diversity into within and between population components. Fifty-seven per cent of the variation detected was partitioned within 10 H. spontaneum populations. Using principal component and multiple regression analysis, part of the variation detected between populations was seen to be associated with certain ecogeographical factors. Fifty-eight per cent of the distribution of the phenotypic frequencies of three RAPD phenotypes detected using a single primer in 20 H. spontaneum populations could be accounted for by four ecogeographical variables, suggesting adaptive variation at certain RAPD loci.