To study the population genetics as well as the mating system of captive zebra finch (Taeniopygia guttata) populations, we developed primers for 12 microsatellite loci and screened them in 529 individuals from two successive generations of a single captive population. All markers were polymorphic with five to 14 alleles per locus. We checked all markers for Mendelian inheritance in 307 offspring whose parents were known for sure. Four markers showed evidence for the presence of null alleles. Once allowing for null alleles, we found no mismatches between offspring and parents, suggesting a very low rate of mutation. Average observed and expected heterozygosities across the eight loci showing no evidence for null-alleles was 0.819 and 0.812, respectively.