Venous thrombosis is a common problem, predominantly afflicting people of European origin. This European predisposition has been explained to some extent by the recent characterization of factor V Leiden, and the G20210A prothrombin variant. Although it is clear that factor V Leiden is largely confined to Europeans, the world distribution of the prothrombin variant is not known. We have analysed samples from 22 different non-European countries and shown that this prothrombin variant is very rare outside Europe: one case occurring in India. The reason for the confined distribution of these two mutations is unclear.