We use an experimental introduction in nature to examine factors that influence parallel evolution. In 1996, 200 high-predation guppies (Poecilia reticulata) from the Yarra River were introduced into the Damier River, which previously lacked guppies. Eight years later, we quantified the colour of wild-caught guppies (‘phenotypic’ divergence) and lab-reared guppies (‘genetic’ divergence) from low- and high-predation environments in both rivers. Phenotypic and genetic divergence between predation environments within the Yarra was evident for black and for orange. Phenotypic divergence within the Damier was parallel to the Yarra for black but not for orange. Genetic divergence was absent between predation environments within the Damier, but was evident when comparing both Damier populations to their Yarra ancestors. The evolution of male colour thus depends on factors other than the simple contrast between ‘high’ and ‘low’ predation. We suggest that the parallel evolution of male signalling traits may sometimes first require the parallel evolution of female preferences.