One mtDNA gene (cytochrome b), one nuclear DNA fragment, five microsatellites and a suite of morphological characters were evaluated in samples of Rutilus spp. from Skadar, Ohrid and Prespa Lakes. Both genetic and phenotypic data supported two sympatric taxa in Lake Skadar,
whereby Prespa and Ohrid Lakes revealed only a single taxon each. One of the taxa from Lake Skadar was similar to samples from Lake Prespa, whereas the second taxon was the most divergent in the data set. The estimated time to the most recent common ancestor of these two sympatric taxa in
Lake Skadar was between 125 000 and 500 000 years. The data did not support existing taxonomic schemes for Rutilus in these lakes. This study poses the following working hypothesis: (1) Rutilus prespensis lives both in Lake Prespa and Lake Skadar and therefore is not endemic
to Lake Prespa, (2) Rutilus ohridanus lives in Lake Ohrid only and therefore could be considered an endemic if its species status is retained and (3) a third recently described taxon (Rutilus albus) sympatric to R. prespensis lives in Lake Skadar.