habitat fragmentation and a decrease in population size may lead to a loss in population genetic diversity. for the first time, the reduction in genetic diversity in the northernmost limit of natural occurence (southeastern brazil) of araucaria angustifolia in comparison with populations in the main area of the species continuous natural distribution (southern brazil), was tested. the 673 aflps markers revealed a high level of genetic diversity for the species (ht = 0.27), despite anthropogenic influence throughout the last century, and a decrease of h in isolated populations of southeastern brazil (h = 0.16), thereby indicating the tendency for higher genetic diversity in remnant populations of continuous forests in southern brazil, when compared to natural isolated populations in the southeastern region. a strong differentiation among southern and southeastern populations was detected (amova variance ranged from 10%-15%). from bayesian analysis, it is suggested that the nine populations tested form five "genetic clusters" (k = 5). five of these populations, located in the northernmost limit of distribution of the species, represent three "genetic clusters". these results are in agreement with the pattern of geographic distribution of the studied populations.