Drosophila subobscura is a Palearctic species that has been extensively studied by population and evolutionary geneticists for nearly half a century. In 1978, it appeared in Puerto Montt, Chile; within a few years it extended over much of Chile and into Argentina and became the most common drosophilid in many places. In 1982, it appeared in the American northwest; shortly thereafter it was found extensively distributed from southern British Columbia, through Washington and Oregon, into southern California, west of Sierra Nevada. In North America also it has become a common drosophilid in many places. The source of the colonizers has been sought with four lines of research: sequence arrangement of the polytene chromosomes, allozyme polymorphisms, mitochondrial DNA restriction patterns, and frequency of lethal alleles. The origin of the colonizers remains uncertain, although all evidence indicates that both the North American and the South American colonizers derive from the same Palearctic population. The overall configuration of the chromosomal and allozyme frequencies suggests a western Mediterranean origin, which is consistent with the mtDNA data. The presence of a particular chromosome arrangement, O5, suggests a northern European origin. Lethal allelism has opened up the possibility of discovering the precise origin of the colonizers: all O5 chromosomes in the Americas carry a particular recessive lethal gene. There is strong evidence that the number of founders was not very small and not very large, perhaps between 10 individuals and several score. The chromosomal polymorphisms of D. subobscura exhibit well-defined latitudinal clines in the Old World. In the few years since the colonization, clines in every chromosome have evolved in the Americas that have identical latitudinal polarity with those in the Old World. This would seem strong evidence that the polymorphisms and the clines are adaptive.