We sequenced 965 base pairs of the mitochondrial DNA cytochrome b from 102 woodmice (Apodemus sylvaticus) collected from 40 European localities. The aims of the study were to answer the following questions. (i) Did the Mediterranean peninsulas play a role as refuge for woodmice? (ii) Is genetic variability of A. sylvaticus higher in the Mediterranean region compared with northern Europe? (iii) Are the patterns of the postglacial colonization of Europe by woodmice similar to those presently recognized for other European species? The results provide a clear picture of the impact of the Quaternary glaciations on the genetic and geographical structure of the woodmouse. Our analyses indicate a higher genetic variability of woodmice in the Mediterranean peninsulas compared to northern Europe, suggesting a role of the former as refuge regions for this small mammal. An original pattern of postglacial colonization is proposed where the Iberian and southern France refuge populations colonized almost all European regions. The Sicilian population appears to be very differentiated and highly variable. This emphasizes the importance of this island as a 'hot spot' for the intraspecific genetic diversity of the woodmouse. Finally, woodmice in North Africa originated from southwestern Europe, most probably as a result of a recent anthropogenic introduction.