Knowledge of the genetic structure of plant populations is necessary for the understanding of the dynamics of major ecological processes. It also has applications in conservation biology and risk assessment for genetically modified crops. This paper reports the genetic structure of a linear population of sea beet, Beta vulgaris ssp. Maritima (the wild relative of sugar beet), on Furzey Island, Poole Harbour. The relative spatial positions of the plants were accurately mapped and the plants were scored for variation at isozyme and RFLP loci. Structure was analysed by repeated subdivision of the population to find the average size of a randomly mating group. Estimates of F-ST between randomly mating units were then made, and gave patterns consistent with the structure of the population being determined largely by founder effects. The implications of these results for the monitoring of transgene spread in wild sea beet populations are discussed.