Fossil evidence suggests that the seastar genus Asterias arrived in the North Atlantic during the trans-Arctic interchange around 3.5 Ma. Previous genetic and morphological studies of the two species found in the Atlantic today suggested two possible scenarios for the speciation of A. rubens and A. forbesi. Through phylogenetic and population genetic analysis of data from a portion of the cytochrome oxidase I mitochondrial gene and a fragment of the ribosomal internal transcribed spacer region, I show that the formation of the Labrador Current 3.0 Ma was probably responsible for the initial vicariance of North Atlantic Asterias populations. Subsequent adaptive evolution in A. forbesi was then possible in isolation from the European species A. rubens. The contact zone between these two species formed recently, possibly due to a Holocene founding event of A. rubens in New England and the Canadian Maritimes.