Abstract: The Quaternary cold periods in the North-western Pacific are thought to have greatly influenced the genetic structures of marine species. One hundred and thirty-two individuals of white croaker Pennahia argentata were sampled from 12 localities throughout its distribution range to estimate the demographic history and genetic structure based on mitochondrial DNA cytochrome b gene and control region sequences. Two distinct clades with net genetic divergence of 3% in the control region were detected, one in Chinese coastal waters and the other in Japanese coastal waters. These clades may have been isolated and diverged during Pleistocene low sea levels. Nucleotide diversity was much higher in the Chinese clade than in the Japanese clade. The demographic history of the two clades was examined using neutrality tests and mismatch analyses, and the results indicated Pleistocene population expansion in both clades. Molecular variance and pairwise FST analyses revealed significant differentiation between two Japanese populations and lack of genetic structure in the Chinese populations. The significant geographic structure in white croaker suggests a low level of dispersal in this species. The lack of phylogeographic structure in Chinese coastal waters may reflect a recent range expansion after the last glacial maximum and insufficient time to attain migration-drift equilibrium.