The polymorphism G20210A in the 3' untranslated region of the prothrombin gene is associated with an increased level of factor II activity and confers a twofold to fivefold increase in the risk for venous thromboembolism. Among Caucasian populations, the prevalence of factor II G20210A heterozygotes is 1% to 6%, whereas in non-Caucasian populations it is very rare or absent. The aim of the present study was to discern whether factor II G20210A originated from a single or recurrent mutational events. Allele frequencies of four dimorphisms spanning 16 of 21 kb of the factor II gene were determined in 133 unrelated Caucasian subjects of Jewish, Austrian, and French origins who bore factor II G20210A (10 homozygotes and 123 heterozygotes) and 110 Caucasian controls. Remarkable differences in the allele frequencies for each dimorphism were observed between the study groups (P = .0007 or less), indicating strong linkage disequilibrium and suggesting a founder effect. Indeed, a founder haplotype was present in 68% of 20210A mutant alleles and only in 34% of 20210G normal alleles (p < .0001). These data strongly support a single origin for factor II G20210A that probably occurred after the divergence of Africans from non-Africans and of Caucasoid from Mongoloid subpopulations.