The East Indies triangle, bordered by the Phillipines, Malay Peninsula and New Guinea, has a high level of tropical marine species biodiversity. Pristipomoides multidens is a large, long-lived, fecund snapper species that is distributed throughout the East Indies and Indo-Pacific. Samples were analysed from central and eastern Indonesia and northern Australia to test for genetic discontinuities in population structure. Fish (n = 377) were collected from the Indonesian islands of Bali, Sumbawa, Flores, West Timor, Tanimbar and Tual along with 131 fish from two northern Australian locations (Arafura and Timor Seas) from a previous study. Genetic variation in the control region of the mitochondrial genome was assayed using restriction fragment length polymorphism and direct sequencing. Haplotype diversity was high (0.67–0.82), as was intraspecific sequence divergence (range 0–5.8%). FST between pairs of populations ranged from 0 to 0.2753. Genetic subdivision was apparent on a small spatial scale; FST was 0.16 over 191 km (Bali/Sumbawa) and 0.17 over 491 km (Bali/Flores). Constraints to dispersal that contribute to, and maintain, the observed degree of genetic subdivision are experienced presumably by all life history stages of this tropical marine finfish. The constraints may include (1) little or no movement of eggs or larvae, (2) little or no home range or migratory movement of adults and (3) loss of larval cohorts due to transport of larvae away from suitable habitat by prevailing currents.