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Two hundred seventeen male subjects from Costa Rica, Mexico, and the Hispanic population of the southwestern United States were studied. Twelve Y-chromosome STRs and the HVSI sequence of the mtDNA were analyzed to describe their genetic structure and to compare maternal and paternal lineages. All subjects are part of two NIMH-funded studies to localize schizophrenia susceptibility genes in Hispanic populations of Mexican and Central American ancestry. We showed that these three populations are similar in their internal genetic characteristics, as revealed by analyses of mtDNA and Y-chromosome STR diversity. These populations are related through their maternal lineage in a stronger way than through their paternal lineage, because a higher number of shared haplotypes and polymorphisms are seen in the mtDNA (compared to Y-chromosome STRs). These results provide evidence of previous contact between the three populations and shared histories. An analysis of molecular variance revealed no genetic differentiation for the mtDNA for the three populations, but differentiation was detected in the Y-chromosome STRs. Genetic distance analysis showed that the three populations are closely related, probably as a result of migration between close neighbors, as indicated by shared haplotypes and their demographic histories. This relationship could be an important common feature for genetic studies in Latin American and Hispanic populations.