Re-emergence of schistosomiasis in regions of China where control programs have ceased requires development of molecular-genetic tools to track gene flow and assess genetic diversity of Schistosoma populations. We identified many microsatellite loci in the draft genome of Schistosoma japonicum using defined search criteria and selected a subset for further analysis. From an initial panel of 50 loci, 20 new microsatellites were selected for eventual optimization and application to a panel of worms from endemic areas. All but one of the selected microsatellites contain simple tri-nucleotide repeats. Moderate to high levels of polymorphism were detected. Numbers of alleles ranged from 6 to 14 and observed heterozygosity was always >0.6. The loci reported here will facilitate high resolution population-genetic studies on schistosomes in re-emergent foci. © 2011 Xiao et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.