Reconstructions of the human-African great ape phylogeny by using mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) have been subject to considerable debate. One confounding factor may be the lack of data on intraspecific variation. To test this hypothesis, we examined the effect of intraspecific mtDNA diversity on the phylogenetic reconstruction of another Plio-Pleistocene radiation of higher primates, the fascicularis group of macaque (Macaca) monkey species. Fifteen endonucleases were used to identify 10 haplotypes of 40-47 restriction sites in M. mulatta, which were compared with similar data for the other members of this species group. Interpopulational, intraspecific mtDNA diversity was large (0.5%-4.5%), and estimates of divergence time and branching order incorporating this variation were substantially different from those based on single representatives of each species. We conclude that intraspecific mtDNA diversity is substantial in at least some primate species. Consequently, without prior information on the extent of genetic diversity within a particular species, intraspecific variation must be assessed and accounted for when reconstructing primate phylogenies. Further, we question the reliability of hominoid mtDNA phylogenies, based as they are on one or a few representatives of each species, in an already depauperate superfamily of primates.