We have used the polymorphic chloroplast (cp) and nuclear simple sequence repeats (SSRs) to analyse levels of cytoplasmic and nuclear diversity in the gene pool of the European cultivated potato (Solanum tuberosum ssp. tuberosum). Primers designed from the complete chloroplast sequence of tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum) were used to amplify polymorphic products in a range of potato cultivars. Combining the data from seven polymorphic cpSSR loci gave 26 haplotypes, one of which (haplotype A) accounted for 151 out of the 178 individuals studied and corresponded to the T–type cytoplasm previously identified in cultivated potatoes using chloroplast restriction fragment length polymorphism analysis. Phylogenetic and diversity analyses of the relationships between cpSSR haplotypes confirmed much higher levels of cytoplasmic diversity outwith the T–type group. Diversity levels at eight nuclear SSR loci, however, were not significantly different between cytoplasmic groups, suggesting a severe maternal bottleneck in the evolution of the modern cultivated potato. These results highlight the importance in quantifying levels of cytoplasmic as well as nuclear diversity and confirm the need for a change in breeding practices to increase levels of non–T–type cytoplasm in the cultivated gene pool, thus helping reduce problems associated with pollen sterility. This may be facilitated by germplasm analysis using cpSSRs, which will allow efficient selection of diverse cytoplasm donors.