Kelp bass, Paralabrax clathratus, is an important sport fishery of California, USA and Baja, Mexico. Here we describe eight microsatellite loci developed for this species. Two loci were derived from known primers for other species in the family, Serranidae and six were developed anew using a clone enrichment protocol. Loci were arranged into three multiplex PCR (polymerase chain reaction) sets for fast throughput; 564 individuals from nine populations across the species’ range were genotyped. Polymorphism ranged from four to 47 alleles and all populations at all loci displayed Hardy–Weinberg and linkage equilibrium.