The aim of the present study was to assess the genetic variation in several Israeli and Turkish populations of wild emmer wheat, Triticum turgidum ssp. dicoccoides, the progenitor of most domesticated wheat. Single spikes were collected in 2002 from 60 plants that grew in six different habitats in Ammiad, northeastern Israel (8-12 plants from each habitat), and in 1998 from 56 plants that grew in seven different habitats in Diyarbakir, southeastern Turkey (8 plants from each habitat). Seeds were planted in a nursery and DNA was extracted from every plant and analyzed by the fluorescent-based amplified fragment length polymorphism (AFLP) method. Seven primer combinations produced 788 discernible loci of which 48.6% were polymorphic in Israel and 40.5% in Turkey. The genetic diversity estimates P (frequency of polymorphic loci) and He (gene diversity) were higher in Ammiad than in Diyarbakir (means of P = 0.34 and He = 0.13 in Ammiad vs. P = 0.20 and He = 0.08 in Diyarbakir). Ammiad populations contained more unique alleles than Diyarbakir populations. The relative genetic diversity estimates (theta) values were 0.188 in Ammiad and 0.407 in Diyarbakir, suggesting better differentiation of the populations in Turkey. Genetic distance was larger between Israeli and Turkish populations than between populations of each country. The data indicate that the Israeli and Turkish populations are considerably diverged and that the Israeli populations are more polymorphic than the Turkish ones, having a larger within-populations genetic variation than among-populations one. The significance of the results in relation to the differentiation pattern of wild emmer in the Near East is discussed.