The genetic diversity present within the near-complete mitochondrial genome (15,982 bp) was determined from 17 indigenous Chinese pig breeds and 3 European breeds. Animals were selected from 17 Chinese breeds that reflect the large phenotypic diversity of Chinese pigs and represent each of the six breed types, which are grouped based on morphological characteristics. Analysis of nucleotide diversity confirmed a high level of divergence between animals of European versus Asian origin; however, much more limited variation was observed between the 17 indigenous Chinese breeds. Each had a unique haplotype, but the lowest pairwise sequence divergence was only 0.01 +/- 0.01%, observed between the Tongcheng and Yushan Black. Comparison of control region sequence diversity revealed the 17 Chinese breeds contain a lower average pairwise distance (0.61 +/- 0.19%) than a group of European commercial breeds (0.91 +/- 0.21%). The dendrogram constructed from the near-complete mtDNA sequences showed the Chinese sequences loosely clustering into two groups. Although some correspondence with geographic origin was present, notable differences between the dendrogram and the traditional pig breed grouping system were observed.