We conducted DNA fingerprinting analyses to ascertain the mating system and population genetic structure of the palila, an endangered Hawaiian honeycreeper, which occupies a fragmented range on the Mauna Kea volcano of the island of Hawai'i. DNA fingerprinting of twelve complete families from the Pu'u La'au population revealed no evidence of extrapair fertilization or intraspecific brood parasitism. Band-sharing coefficients from fingerprints produced with two probes revealed that the large Pu'u La'au population on the southwest slope of Mauna Kea, and a smaller, geographically separate population on the east slope (at Kanakaleonui) had relatively high and virtually identical levels of minisatellite variability (mean S of 0.27 for each population based on combined data of M13 and Jeffreys 33.15 probes). The two populations also had nearly identical allele frequencies based on their mean corrected similarity, Sij, of 0.98. These data suggest that the two populations have not been fragmented long and/or have sufficient current gene flow to ameliorate any affects of genetic drift. We conclude that present levels of inbreeding are low within both populations, and that proposed translocations of individuals from Pu'u La'au to Kanakaleonui appear appropriate from a genetic standpoint.