We surveyed nucleotide variation at vermilion in population samples of Drosophila melanogaster from Africa, Asia and the Americas to test the hypothesis that the vermilion gene was a target of balancing selection and to improve our understanding of geographic differentiation. Patterns of polymorphism and divergence showed no evidence for non-neutral evolution. However, the frequency spectrum of polymorphic sites in some non-African samples departed from the neutral equilibrium expectation. Furthermore, there were high levels of linkage disequilibrium in non-African samples, despite apparently high rates of crossing over in the vermilion region. In the absence of comparable data from other loci in these same population samples, we cannot determine whether the unusual patterns of variation at vermilion reflect demographic as opposed to locus-specific events. We found surprisingly high levels of differentiation at vermilion between U.S. and Congo samples of D. simulans. In light of previously published allozyme and mtDNA data that provided no evidence for significant differentiation between African and non-African D. simulans populations, the vermilion data raise the possibility that both mtDNA and allozymes have been influenced by selection.