Drosophila subobscura is a Palearctic species that was first observed in South and North America in the early 1980s, and that rapidly invaded broad latitudinal ranges on both continents. To trace the source and history of this invasion, we obtained genotypic data on nine microsatellite loci from two South American, two North American and five European populations of D. subobscura. We analysed these data with traditional statistics as well as with an approximate Bayesian computation (ABC) framework. ABC methods yielded the strongest support for the scenario involving a serial introduction with founder events from Europe into South America, and then from South America into North America. Stable effective population size of the source population was very large (around one million individuals), and the propagule size was notably smaller for the introduction into South America (i.e. high bottleneck severity index with only a few effective founders) but considerably larger for the subsequent introduction into North America (i.e. low bottleneck severity index with around 100–150 effective founders). Finally, the Mediterranean region of Europe (and most likely Barcelona from the localities so far analysed) is proposed as the source of the New World flies, based on mean individual assignment statistics.