There is a general perception that central and northern Europe were colonized by range expansion from Mediterranean refugia at the end of the last glaciation. Data from various species support this scenario, but we question its universality. Our mitochondrial DNA studies on three widespread species of small mammal suggest that colonization may have occurred from glacial refugia in central Europe–western Asia. The haplotypes on the Mediterranean peninsulae are distinctive from those found elsewhere. Rather than contributing to the postglacial colonization of Europe, Mediterranean populations of widespread small mammals may represent long–term isolates undergoing allopatric speciation. This could explain the high endemism of small mammals associated with the Mediterranean peninsulae.