Despite a number of recent studies that have focused on the origin of domestic horses, genetic relationships between major geographical clusters still remain poorly understood. In this study we analyzed a 296 bp mtDNA fragment from the HVI region of 171 horses representing 11 native Iberian, Barb, and Exmoor breeds to assess the maternal phylogeography of Iberian horses. The mtDNA haplogroup with a CCG motif (nucleotide position 15,494 to 15,496) was the most frequent in Iberian and Barb breeds (0.42 and 0.57, respectively), regardless of geographic location or group of breeds. This finding supports the close genetic relationship between the ancestral mare populations of the Iberian Peninsula and Northern Africa. Phenotypic differences among the Northern and Southern Iberian groups of breeds are not explained by population subdivision based on maternal lineages. Our results also suggest that Northern Iberian ponies - which are phenotypically close to British ponies, especially Exmoor - are the result of an introgression rather than population replacement. © The American Genetic Association. 2005. All rights reserved.