With the advent of next generation sequencing technologies, transcriptome level sequence collections are arising as prominent resources for the discovery of gene-based molecular markers. In a previous study more than 15 000 simple sequence repeats (SSRs) in expressed sequence tag (EST) sequences resulting from 454 pyrosequencing of Pinus contorta cDNA were identified. From these we developed PCR primers for approximately 4000 candidate SSRs. Here, we tested 184 of these SSRs for successful amplification across P. contorta and eight other pine species and examined patterns of polymorphism and allelic variability for a subset of these SSRs. Cross-species transferability was high, with high percentages of loci producing PCR products in all species tested. In addition, 50% of the loci we screened across panels of individuals from three of these species were polymorphic and allelically diverse. We examined levels of diversity in a subset of these SSRs by collecting genotypic data across several populations of Pinus ponderosa in northern Wyoming. Our results indicate the utility of mining pyrosequenced EST collections for gene-based SSRs and provide a source of molecular markers that should bolster evolutionary genetic investigations across the genus Pinus.