Marine bivalves are sessile or sedentary as adults but have planktonic larvae which can potentially disperse over large distances. Consequently larval transport is expected to play a prominent role in facilitating gene flow and determining population structure. The sea scallop (Placopecten magellanicus) is a dioecious species with high fecundity, broadcast spawning and a c. 30-day planktonic larval stage, yet it forms discrete populations or ‘beds’ which have significantly different dynamics and characteristics. We analysed variation at six microsatellite loci in 12 locations throughout the geographic range of the species from Newfoundland, Canada, to New Jersey, USA. Significant differentiation was present and the maximum pairwise θ value, between one of the Newfoundland samples in the north and a sample from the southern portion of the range, was high at 0.061. Other proximate pairs of samples had no detectable genetic differentiation. Mantel tests indicated a significant isolation by distance, but only when one of the populations was excluded. A landscape genetic approach was used to detect areas of low gene flow using a joint analysis of spatial and genetic information. The two major putative barriers inferred by Monmonier's algorithm were then used to define regions for an analysis of molecular variance (amova). That analysis showed a significant but low percentage (1.2%) of the variation to be partitioned among regions, negligible variation among populations within regions, and the majority of the variance distributed between individuals within populations. Prominent currents were concordant with the demarcation of the regions, while a novel approach of using particle tracking software to mimic scallop larval dispersal was employed to interpret within-region genetic patterns.