A consortium of 16 laboratories have studied chloroplast DNA (cpDNA) variation in European white oaks. A common strategy for molecular screening, based on restriction analysis of four PCR-amplified cpDNA fragments, was used to allow comparison among the different laboratories. A total of 2613 oak populations (12,214 individual trees from eight species) were sampled from 37 countries, and analysed with the four fragments. They belong to eight related oak species: Quercus robur, Q. petraea, Q. pubescens, Q. frainetto, Q. faginea, Q. pyrenaica, Q. canariensis and Q. macranthera. During this survey, 45 chloroplast variants were detected and are described together with their phylogenetic relationships, but several of these haplotypes were pooled when there were some risks of confusion across laboratories during the survey, and finally 32 remained that were mapped and used in diversity analyses. A strong phylogeographic structure is apparent from the data, where related haplotypes have broadly similar geographic distributions. In total, six cpDNA lineages are identified, which have distinct geographic distributions, mainly along a longitudinal gradient. Most haplotypes found in northern Europe are also present in the south, whereas the converse is not true, suggesting that the majority of mutations observed were generated prior to postglacial recolonisation, corroborating the conclusions of earlier studies. The description of a new western European lineage constitutes a major finding, compared to earlier phylogenetic treatments. Although the eight oak species studied systematically share cpDNA variants when in sympatry, they partition cpDNA diversity differently, as a consequence of their different ecology and life history attributes. Regional differences in levels of differentiation also exist (either species-specific or general); these seem to be related to the intensity of past and present management of the forests across Europe but also to the level of fragmentation of the range within these regions.