The nose-horned viper (Vipera ammodytes) occurs in a large part of the south-eastern Europe and Asia Minor. Phylogenetic relationships were reconstructed for a total of 59 specimens using sequences from three mitochondrial regions (16S and cytochrome b genes, and control region, totalling 2308 bp). A considerable number of clades were observed within this species, showing a large genetic diversity within the Balkan peninsula. Splitting of the basal clades was evaluated to about 4 million years ago. Genetic results are in contradiction with presently accepted taxonomy based on morphological characters V. a. gregorwallneri and V. a. ruffoi do not display any genetic difference compared with the nominotypic subspecies (V. a. ammodytes), involving that these subspecies can be regarded as synonyms. High genetic divergence in the central part of the Balkan peninsula is not concordant with low morphological differentiation. Finally, the extensive genetic diversity within the Balkan peninsula and the colonisation routes are discussed.