Gonyostmum semen is a freshwater raphidophyte that has increased in occurrence and abundance in several countries in northern Europe since the 1980s. More recently, the species has expanded rapidly also in north-eastern Europe, and it is frequently referred to as invasive. To better understand the species history, we have explored the phylogeography of G. semen using strains from northern Europe, United States, and Japan. Three regions of the ribosomal RNA gene (small subunit [SSU], internal transcribed spacer [ITS] and large subunit [LSU]) and one mitochondrial DNA marker (cox1) were analyzed. The SSU and partial LSU sequences were identical in all strains, confirming that they belong to the same species. The ITS region differentiated the American from the other strains, but showed high intra-strain variability. In contrast, the mitochondrial marker cox1 showed distinct differences between the European, American, and Japanese strains. Interestingly, only one cox1 haplotype was detected in European strains. The overall low diversity and weak geographic structure within northern European strains supported the hypothesis of a recent invasion of new lakes by G. semen. Our data also show that the invasive northern European lineage is genetically distinct from the lineages from the other continents. Finally, we concluded that the mitochondrial cox1 was the most useful marker in determining large-scale biogeographic patterns in this species.