The redlip mullet (Liza haematocheilus) is a commercial marine species widespread in the Northwestern Pacific. The genetic diversity and population structure of the redlip mullet collected from 2007 to 2010 along Chinese and Japanese coastal regions, were investigated by mitochondrial DNA. A total of 82 L. haematocheilus individuals were collected from five locations and 41 haplotypes were obtained. A pattern of distribution of genetic variability with high level of haplotype diversity (0.9642 ± 0.0104) and moderate nucleotide diversity (0.0162 ± 0.0085) was detected. The minimum spanning tree constructed with 41 haplotypes showed three divergent clades, corresponding to those defined in the NJ tree. Analyses of molecular variance and the population statistic FST also revealed significant genetic structures among populations of L. haematocheilus. The demographic history of L. haematocheilus was examined using neutrality tests and mismatch distribution analysis, which indicated a Pleistocene epoch population expansion. Comparisons of the Hakodate and Qingdao populations in different years demonstrated that marginal but significant (P < 0.05) differences exist in the two Qingdao populations, but with no significant difference (P > 0.05) in the Hakodate populations. Knowledge of their genetic diversity and genetic structure is crucial to establishing appropriate fishery management for the species.