We have studied allozyme variation at 26 gene loci in nine populations of Drosophila melanogaster originating on five different continents. The distant populations show significant genetic differentiation. However, only half of the loci studied have contributed to this differentiation; the other half show identical patterns in all populations. The genetic differentiation in North American, European and African populations is correlated with the major climatic differences between north and south. These differences arise mainly from seven loci that show gene-frequency patterns suggestive of latitudinal clines in allele frequencies. The clinal variation is such that subtropical populations are more heterozygous than temperate populations. These results are discussed in relation to the selectionist and neutralist hypotheses of genetic variation in natural populations.