Previous work on the genetic diversity of Phaeocystis used ribosomal DNA and internal transcribed spacer (ITS) sequence analyses to show that there is substantial inter- and intraspecific variation within the genus. First attempts to trace the biogeographical history of strains in Antarctic coastal waters were based on a comparison of ITS sequences. To gain deeper insights into the population structure and bloom dynamics of this microalga it is necessary to quantify the genetic diversity within populations of P. antarctica from different locations (i.e., each of the three major gyres in the Antarctic continental waters) and to calculate the gene flow between them. Here we describe methods to quantify genetic diversity and our preliminary results for P. antarctica in comparison to two other colonial species: P. globosa and P. pouchetii. For this study of genetic diversity, two fingerprinting techniques were used. First, amplified fragment-length polymorphisms (AFLPs) were established as a pre-screening tool to assess clone diversity and to select divergent clones prior to physiological investigations. Second, the more-powerful microsatellite markers were established to assess population structure and biogeography more accurately. Results show differences in the AFLP patterns between isolates of P. antarctica from different regions, and that a wide variety of microsatellite motifs could be obtained from the three Phaeocystis species.