Cathaya argyrophylla is an endangered conifer restricted to subtropical mountains of China. To study phylogeographical pattern and demographic history of C. argyrophylla, species-wide genetic variation was investigated using sequences of maternally inherited mtDNA and biparentally inherited nuclear DNA. Of 15 populations sampled from all four distinct regions, only three mitotypes were detected at two loci, without single region having a mixed composition (GST = 1). Average nucleotide diversity (θws = 0.0024; πs = 0.0029) across eight nuclear loci is significantly lower than those found for other conifers (θws = 0.003∼0.015; πs = 0.002∼0.012) based on estimates of multiple loci. Because of its highest diversity among the eight nuclear loci and evolving neutrally, one locus (2009) was further used for phylogeographical studies and eight haplotypes resulting from 12 polymorphic sites were obtained from 98 individuals. All the four distinct regions had at least four haplotypes, with the Dalou region (DL) having the highest diversity and the Bamian region (BM) the lowest, paralleling the result of the eight nuclear loci. An AMOVA revealed significant proportion of diversity attributable to differences among regions (13.4%) and among populations within regions (8.9%). FST analysis also indicated significantly high differentiation among populations (FST = 0.22) and between regions (FST = 0.12–0.38). Non-overlapping distribution of mitotypes and high genetic differentiation among the distinct geographical groups suggest the existence of at least four separate glacial refugia. Based on network and mismatch distribution analyses, we do not find evidence of long distance dispersal and population expansion in C. argyrophylla. Ex situ conservation and artificial crossing are recommended for the management of this endangered species.