Understanding the population genetic structure is a prerequisite for conservation of a species. The degree of genetic variability characteristic of the mitochondrial DNA control region has been widely exploited in studies of population genetic structure and can be useful in identifying meaningful population subdivisions. To estimate the genetic profile of the Yangtze finless porpoise (Neophocaena phocaenoides asiaeorientalis), an endangered freshwater population endemic to China, the complete mtDNA control region was examined in 39 individuals belonging to seven different stocks inhabiting the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River. Very low genetic diversity was found (nucleotide diversity 0.0011± 0.0002 and haplotypic diversity 0.65± 0.05). The mtDNA genetic pattern of the Yangtze population appears to indicate a founder event in its evolutionary history and to support the marine origin for this population. Analyses by F st and Φst yielded statistically significant population genetic structure (F st = 0.44, P < 0.05; Φst = 0.36, P < 0.05). These results may have significant implications for the management and conservation of the Yangtze finless porpoise in the future.