Nine microsatellite loci were isolated and characterized from California sea lions (Zalophus californianus). In addition, two of five loci tested from harbour seal (Phoca vitulina) produced a single, clear band in Z. californianus, as did one out of five loci from grey seal (Halichoerus grypus) and one out of two loci from elephant seal (Mirounga sp.). No locus tested from South American fur seal (Arctocephalus australis) amplified in Z. californianus. Locus variability was assessed in California sea lions from Los Islotes rookery, Baja California Sur, Mexico. All loci were variable, with allele numbers ranging from three to 12.