Rhododendron aureum Georgi (Ericaceae) is a perennial alpine shrub endemic to Changbai Mountain in China. We used ISSR and RAPD markers to describe the diversity and genetic structure within and among four natural populations located at different altitudes. DNA from 66 individuals was amplified with ten ISSR markers and seven RAPD markers. High genetic diversity was observed by these two techniques at the species level. The genetic diversity of populations increased with altitudinal gradients from low to high. The coefficient of gene differentiation (GST 0.3652 in ISSR and 0.2511 in RAPD) and AMOVA analysis revealed that most genetic diversity was distributed within populations (61.96% in ISSR and 70.23% in RAPD). The estimate of gene flow based on GST was 0.8690 in ISSR and 1.4910 in RAPD. The UPGMA clustering results using ISSR and RAPD showed that all individuals from the same altitude were gathered together, and the two populations (TYD2a and YHLa) from middle altitudes always clustered together. Compared with populations from different altitudes, similar genetic diversity and low genetic differentiation were obtained from populations at the same altitudes, as revealed by ISSR markers. In addition to the reproductive strategy of R. aureum, these data highlight that local environmental conditions may play an important role in shaping the diversity and genetic structure of this species.