Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) diversity in European and Asian pigs was assessed using 1536 samples representing 45 European and 21 Chinese breeds. Diagnostic nucleotide differences in the cytochrome b (Cytb) gene between the European and Asian mtDNA variants were determined by pyrosequencing as a rapid screening method. Subsequently, 637 bp of the hypervariable control region was sequenced to further characterize mtDNA diversity. All sequences belonged to the D1 and D2 clusters of pig mtDNA originating from ancestral wild boar populations in Europe and Asia, respectively. The average frequency of Asian mtDNA haplotypes was 29% across European breeds, but varied from 0 to 100% within individual breeds. A neighbour-joining (NJ) tree of control region sequences showed that European and Asian haplotypes form distinct clusters consistent with the independent domestication of pigs in Asia and Europe. The Asian haplotypes found in the European pigs were identical or closely related to those found in domestic pigs from Southeast China. The star-like pattern detected by network analysis for both the European and Asian haplotypes was consistent with a previous demographic expansion. Mismatch analysis supported this notion and suggested that the expansion was initiated before domestication.