Gossypium barbadense L. is a commercially important cotton species of tropical South American origin presently grownin many regions of the world. The species is morphologically diverse, consisting of a wide range of wild (or feral), commensal, landrace, and highly improvedcommercial forms. We performed allozyme analysis on 153 accessions representing the spectrum of G. barbadense diversityto ascertain the geographic origin of the species, its patterns of diffusion subsequent to domestication, and to reveal infraspecific relationships. Levels ofgenetic variation in G. barbadense are moderate. Of 59 loci scored, 24 were polymorphic, with a mean number of alleles perlocus of 1.69 and an average panmictic heterozygosity of 0.062. Principal component analysis revealed geographic clustering of accessions into six relativelydiscrete regions. Gene frequencies at many loci are significantly heterogeneous among these regions, with an average GSTof 0.272. Northwestern South America contains the greatest genetic variability; we suggest that this region is the ancestral home of the species. The data indicate separate diffusion pathways from this region into Argentina-Paraguay and into eastern and northern South America east of the Andes. Caribbean Island and Central American forms appear to be derived from the latter. These diffusion pathways are in accordance with morphological evidence and historical record. In contrast to expectations based on geographic proximity, Pacific Island forms have their closest affinity to accessions from eastern South America. Advanced cultivated stocks seem largely derived from western Andean material, but also contain introgressed G. hirsutum germ plasm. Introgression was relatively high (22%–50% of accessions) in commercial stocks and in forms from Argentina-Paraguay and various Pacific Islands, but was conspicuously low or absent in material from Central America and the Caribbean, where commensal and commercial forms of both species are sympatric.