In order to determine how informative a set of microsatellites from tomato is across the genus Lycopersicon, 17 microsatellite loci, derived from regions in and around genes, were tested on 31 accessions comprising the nine species of the genus. The microsatellite polymorphisms were used to estimate the distribution of diversity throughout the genus and to evaluate the efficacy of microsatellites for establishing species relationships in comparison with existing phylogeny reconstructions. Gene diversity and genetic distances were calculated. A high level of polymorphism was found, as well as a large number of alleles unique for species. The level of polymorphism detected with the microsatellite loci within and among species was highly correlated with the respective mating systems, cross-pollinating species having a significantly higher gene diversity compared to self-pollinating species. In general, microsatellite-based trees were consistent with a published RFLP-based dendrogram as well as with a published classification based on morphology and the mating system. A tree constructed with low-polymorphic loci (gene diversity <0.245) was shown to represent a more-reliable topology than a tree constructed with more-highly polymorphic loci.