Genetic variation in the southern green stink bug Nezara viridula (Linnaeus) from 11 geographically separated sampling locations (Slovenia, France, Greece, Italy, Madeira, Japan, Guadeloupe, Galapagos, California, Brazil and Botswana) was studied by sequencing 16S and 28S rDNA, cytochrome b and cytochrome c oxidase subunit I gene fragments and random amplified polymorphic DNA (RAPD) analysis. Sequencing revealed 11 distinct haplotypes clustering into lineages A, B and C. Lineage C was characteristic for a single analysed specimen from Botswana. Lineage B was detected in Japan, and it probably arose in Asia. Haplotypes of European and American specimens belonged to lineage A; specimens from France, Slovenia, Madeira and Brazil shared highly similar haplotypes (>99%) from subgroup A1, while all the specimens from Greece, California, Galapagos and Guadeloupe shared a haplotype from subgroup A2. RAPD data were more variable but consistent with mtDNA sequences, revealing the same clustering. They separated the Botswanian specimen from Japanese specimens and from a group of more closely related specimens from Europe and America. Sequence and RAPD results both support the African origin of N. viridula, followed by dispersal to Asia (lineage B) and, more recently, by expansion to Europe and America (lineage A). RAPD analysis revealed two highly supported subgroups in Japan, congruent with mtDNA lineages A2 and B, suggesting multiple colonization of Japan. Invariant sequences at the 28S rDNA combined with other results do not support the hypothesis that cryptic (sibling) species exist within the populations investigated in this study.