Intraspecific genetic diversity governs the potential of species to prevail in the face of environmental or ecological challenges; therefore, its protection is critical. The Indo-Australian Archipelago (IAA) is a significant reservoir of the world's marine biodiversity and a region of high conservation priority. Yet, despite indications that the IAA may harbour greater intraspecific variation, multiple-locus genetic diversity data are limited. We investigated microsatellite DNA variation in Pinctada maxima populations from the IAA to elucidate potential factors influencing levels of genetic diversity in the region. Results indicate that genetic diversity decreases as the geographical distance away from central Indonesia increases, and that populations located towards the centre of P. maxima's range are more genetically diverse than those located peripherally (P < 0.01). Significant partitioning of genetic variation was identified (FST = 0.027; RST = 0.023, P < 0.001) and indicates that historical biogeographical episodes or oceanographic factors have shaped present population genetic structure. We propose that the genetic diversity peak in P. maxima populations may be due to (i) an abundance of suitable habitat within the IAA, meaning larger, more temporally stable populations can be maintained and are less likely to encounter genetic bottlenecks; and/or (ii) the close proximity of biogeographical barriers around central Indonesia results in increased genetic diversity in the region because of admixture of genetically divergent populations. We encourage further genetic diversity studies of IAA marine biota to confirm whether this region has a significant role in maintaining intraspecific diversity, which will greatly assist the planning and efficacy of future conservation efforts.