The Northwestern Pacific has a unique tectonic and geographical history with several marginal seas separating Asia from the Pacific Ocean. During low sea level periods of Pleistocene glaciations, populations might have been isolated in three marginal seas: the Sea of Japan, East China Sea and South China Sea. Following postglacial sea level rise, we would expect the populations isolated in the three regions to have been homogenized by high dispersal potential. To assess these hypotheses, we explore the intraspecific phylogeographical patterns in redlip mullet, Chelon haematocheilus. Fragments of 435 bp at the 5′ end of mitochondrial DNA control region were sequenced for 272 individuals from nine localities over most of the species’ range. Three distinct lineages were detected, which might have diverged in the three marginal seas during Pleistocene low sea levels. Contrary to homogenization expectation, there were strong differences in the geographical distribution of the three lineages. Analyses of molecular variance and the population statistic ΦST also revealed significant genetic structure among populations of the three marginal seas. These results indicate that gene flow in Chelon haematocheilus is far more restricted spatially than predicted by the potential dispersal capabilities of this species. The lack of phylogeographical structure in East China Sea may reflect a recent range expansion after the last glacial maximum and insufficient time to attain migration-drift equilibrium.