Debates on speciation processes in pteridophytes have revived. In order to study the evolutionary origin of an apomictic fern species, we investigated the genetic variation in the strictly agamosporous Dryopteris remota. We determined the genotypes of 22 individuals from many different locations within the species' European distribution and of 20 individuals from a Swiss population. A previous study on isozyme variation showed no intraspecific genetic variation in a similar sample set (Schneller and Holderegger, 1994, American Fern Journal 84: 94-98). In contrast to this, four out of 12 random amplified polymorphic DNA (RAPD) primers tested revealed low genetic diversity among individuals of D. remota from different locations. Intrapopulational genetic variation was also very low, but in the single population studied, a unique multiband genotype could be detected. The geographic distribution of genetic variation found in D. remota was best explained by the assumption of a single origin, the accumulation of somatic mutations during spread, and occasional, but effective, events of dispersal over large distances. The present study thus stresses the importance of long-distance dispersal in evolutionary processes and biogeography of ferns. Key words: apomixis; Dryopteridaceae; Dryopteris remota; evolution; genetic variation; phylogeography; random amplified polymorphic DNA (RAPD).