Pathogenicity and genetic diversity of Fusarium oxysporum from geographically widespread native Gossypium populations, including a cotton growing area believed to be the center of origin of VCG 01111 and VCG 01112 of F. oxysporum f. sp. vasinfectum (Fov) in Australia, was determined using glasshouse bioassays and AFLPs. Five lineages (A–E) were identified among 856 isolates. Of these, 12% were strongly pathogenic on cotton, 10% were weakly pathogenic and designated wild Fov, while 78% were nonpathogenic. In contrast to the occurrence of pathogenic isolates in all five lineages in soils associated with wild Gossypium, in cotton growing areas only three lineages (A, B, E) occurred and all pathogenic isolates belonged to two subgroups in lineage A. One of these contained VCG 01111 isolates while the other contained VCG 01112 isolates. Sequence analyses of translation elongation factor-1α, mitochondrial small subunit rDNA, nitrate reductase and phosphate permease confirmed that Australian Fov isolates were more closely related to lineage A isolates of native F. oxysporum than to Fov races 1–8 found overseas. These results strongly support a local evolutionary origin for Fov in Australian cotton growing regions.