A total of 49 samples from indigenous Portuguese cattle breeds were analysed for sequence variation in the hypervariable region of the mitochondrial DNA D–loop. Sequence comparison and phylogenetic analyses revealed that haplotypes fell into two distinct groups. These corresponded with two separate haplotype clusters into which, respectively, all African, or alternatively all sequences of European origin, have previously been shown to fall. Here, the majority of sequences of African type were encountered in three southern, as compared to three northern breeds. This pattern of African influence may reflect an intercontinental admixture in the initial origins of Iberian breeds, or it is perhaps an introgression dating from the long and influential Moorish occupation of the south of the Iberian peninsula.