The redshank (Tringa totanus) is declining throughout Europe and to implement efficient conservation measures, it is important to obtain information about the population genetic structure. The aim of the present study was two-fold. First, we analysed the genetic variation within and between populations in the Baltic region in southern Scandinavia. Evidence of genetic structure would suggest that different populations might require separate management strategies. Second, in an attempt to study large-scale genetic structure we compared the Baltic populations with redshanks from northern Scandinavia and Iceland. This analysis could reveal insights into phylogeography and long-term population history. DNA samples were collected from six breeding sites in Scandinavia presumed to include two subspecies (totanus and britannica) and a further sample from Iceland (subspecies robusta). Two methods were used to study the population genetic structure. Domain II and III of the mitochondrial control region was analysed by DNA sequencing and nuclear DNA was analysed by screening amplified fragment length polymorphism (AFLP) markers. Mitochondrial DNA showed no variation between individuals in domain II. When analysing an 481 bp fragment of domain III seven haplotypes were found among birds. On the basis of mtDNA sequences, redshanks showed some evidence of a recent expansion from a bottlenecked refugial population. Bayesian analyses of AFLP data revealed a significant genetic differentiation between suggested subspecies but not between populations within the Baltic region. Our results indicate that populations of redshanks in Europe constitute at least three separate management units corresponding to the recognised subspecies.