The occurrence of outcrossing in benthic hermaphroditic colonial invertebrates has received much historical debate and little demonstration. Direct genetic study of this question using routine techniques has been limited by both the amount of material required and the detection of adequate DNA polymorphisms. However, the recent development of molecular techniques that require no a-priori sequence data provides new approaches to the characterization of both tiny and genetically similar individuals. Random amplification of polymorphic DNA (the RAPD assay) was used to amplify fragments of DNA (via the polymerase chain reaction) to obtain fingerprints of parental colonies and larval offspring of the hermaphroditic freshwater bryozoan Cristatella mucedo. Here we report the first positive and direct genetic evidence for outcrossing in bryozoans. However, we find that outcrossing generates only low levels of genetic variation in populations that are highly clonal.