The small aquatic snail Potamopyrgus antipodarum is an important invading species in Europe, Australia and North America. European populations are generally believed to derive from accidental introductions from New Zealand, probably dating back to the mid-19th century. We have employed mitochondrial DNA sequences to test the proposed New Zealand origin of European Potamopyrgus, and to learn more about its genealogical history. Using a 481-bp region of the 16S ribosomal RNA gene, we identified 17 distinct haplotypes among 65 snails from New Zealand. In marked contrast, only two haplotypes were found across all European samples, which cover a large geographical area. Importantly, these two haplotypes are shared with snails from the North Island of New Zealand. Due to sampling limitations we cannot rule out a South Island origin for one of the haplotypes, but our results clearly demonstrate the New Zealand origin of European populations. The marked divergence among the two European haplotypes implies the successful colonization by two distinct mitochondrial lineages, which is consistent with previous data based on nuclear markers.