Summary Marine stickleback fish have colonized and adapted to innumerable streams and lakes formed since the last ice age, providing an exceptional opportunity to characterize genomic mechanisms underlying repeated ecological adaptation in nature. Here we develop a high quality reference genome assembly for threespine sticklebacks. By sequencing the genomes of 20 additional individuals from a global set of marine and freshwater populations, we identify a genome-wide set of loci that are consistently associated with marine-freshwater divergence. Our results suggest that reuse of globally-shared standing genetic variation, including chromosomal inversions, plays an important role in repeated evolution of distinct marine and freshwater sticklebacks, and in the maintenance of divergent ecotypes during early stages of reproductive isolation. Both coding and regulatory changes occur in the set of loci underlying marine-freshwater evolution, with regulatory changes likely predominating in this classic example of repeated adaptive evolution in nature.