The random amplified polymorphic DNA (RAPD) technique, and DNA sequencing of the conserved nuclear ribosomal DNA internal transcribed spacer region (ITS1-5.8S-ITS2), have been used to assess levels of genetic diversity in the moss Ceratodon purpureus from several locations in Australasia, subantarctic Heard and Macquarie Islands, and continental Antarctica. Populations from Heard and Macquarie Islands and from Antarctica maintain high levels of genetic variation. Both within- and among-colony variation were observed at these locations. DNA sequence analysis showed that samples from the Ross Sea region of Antarctica were most closely related to colonies from Casey and Macquarie Island, and that one colony from Heard Island was most closely related to one from Europe. DNA sequence data separated two Australian populations from the Antarctic and subantarctic group on a dendrogram. Detailed RAPD analysis of a single colony from continental Antarctica demonstrated that mutation probably causes the high variability observed in this moss. DNA sequencing and RAPD analysis are complementary techniques for genetic investigation of Antarctic moss populations.