We present the first quantitative data on the genetic breeding system of a lark (Alaudidae), the Skylark Alauda arvensis. Using a set of eight microsatellite loci isolated in a variety of passerine species, we genotyped 171 offspring from 52 broods of Skylark and detected 35 extra-pair offspring (20%), in 14 different broods (27%). All offspring matched their putative mother, so there was no evidence of intraspecific brood parasitism. Previous non-genetic studies had suggested that the species was predominantly socially monogamous, with only rare occurrences of social polygyny and polyandry, although some behaviours, such as mate guarding, did suggest the possibility of extra-pair copulations. The relatively high level of extra-pair paternity in this species is likely to affect the variation in male reproductive success because extra-pair paternity was non-randomly distributed amongst males, with those with shorter wings more likely to be cuckolded.