A diversity of evolutionary processes can be responsible for generating and maintaining biodiversity. Molecular markers were used to investigate the influence of Plio-Pleistocene climatic oscillations on the evolutionary history of taxa restricted to the freshwaters of a classical glacial refugium. Population genetic, phylogenetic and phylogeographical methods allowed the inference of temporal dynamics of cladogenesis and processes shaping present-day genetic constitution of Barbus sclateri, a polytypic taxon found in several independent river drainages in southern Iberian Peninsula. Results from different analyses consistently indicate several range expansions, high levels of allopatric fragmentation, and admixture following secondary contacts throughout its evolutionary history. Using a Bayesian demographical coalescent model on mitochondrial DNA sequences calibrated with fossil evidence, all cladogenetic events within B. sclateri are inferred to have occurred during the Pleistocene and were probably driven by environmental factors. Our results suggest that glaciation cycles did not inhibit cladogenesis and probably interacted with regional geomorphology to promote diversification. We conclude that this polytypic taxon is a species complex that recently diversified in allopatry, and that Pleistocene glaciation–deglaciation cycles probably contributed to the generation of biological diversity in a classical glacial refugium with high endemicity.