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Abstract Aim The brackish water mysid, Neomysis integer, is one of the most common mysid species along the coasts of the north-east Atlantic. In the present study, the phylogeographical patterns were examined throughout the distribution range of N. integer. In particular, the latitudinal trends in genetic diversity and the distribution of genetic variation were examined in order to elucidate the imprints of the Pleistocene glaciations. Location North-east Atlantic coasts from the Baltic Sea to the south of Spain. Methods A total of 461 specimens from 11 populations were analysed by means of single-stranded conformation polymorphism analysis combined with DNA sequencing of a fragment of the mitochondrial cytochrome c oxidase I gene. The genetic structure was examined by using a progression of phylogenetic, demographic and population genetic analyses to elucidate not only the geographical structure, but also the evolutionary history producing that structure. Results The levels of genetic diversity were relatively uniform throughout the distribution range, with the exception of a decline at the northern and southern edges of distribution. A high heterogeneity was observed between the populations analysed (global ΦST = 0.787). This is caused by the disparate distribution of the cytochrome oxidase I haplotypes, with several population-specific haplotypes. A clear genetic break (2.4% sequence divergence) occurred between the southernmost Guadalquivir population and all other populations. Main conclusions The present study corroborates the expectations of the genetic patterns typically observed in an estuarine species. The within-population variability was low, whereas a significant (moderate to high) divergence was observed between populations. Phylogeographical analysis revealed that northern populations within the English Channel, North Sea and Baltic Sea are characterized by several widespread haplotypes, while the Irish population and all sites south of the Bay of Biscay consist solely of unique haplotypes. This pattern, combined with the relative high levels of genetic diversity, could be indicative for the presence of a glacial refugium in the English Channel region. Under this scenario N. integer must have survived the Last Glacial Maximum in the palaeoriver system present in that region.