Patterns of chloroplast DNA (cpDNA) and mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) variation were studied in 378 populations of oak trees sampled throughout the southern half of France. Six cpDNA haplotypes detected in a previous European survey and three new cpDNA haplotypes were found in this region. Two mitochondrial polymorphisms detected earlier by restriction analysis of PCR-amplified fragments alone, or in combination with single-strand conformation polymorphism (SSCP), were compared with the cpDNA data. Sequencing revealed the nature of the two mitochondrial mutations: a single-base substitution and a 4-bp inversion associated with a 22-bp hairpin secondary structure. The single-base substitution was then analyzed by allele-specific amplification. Results for the two cytoplasmic genomes were combined, which allowed the identification of 12 cpDNA-mtDNA haplotypes. The 4-bp mtDNA inversion has appeared independently in different cpDNA lineages. Given the peculiar nature of this mtDNA mutation, we suggest that intramolecular recombination leading to repeated inversions of the 4-bp sequence (rather than paternal leakage of one of the two genomes) is responsible for this pattern. Furthermore, the geographic locations of the unusual cpDNA-mtDNA associations (due to the inversion) usually do not match the zones of contact between divergent haplotypes. In addition, in southern France, the groupings of populations based on the mtDNA substitution were strictly congruent with those based on cpDNA. Because many populations that are polymorphic for both cpDNA and mtDNA have remained in contact since postglacial recolonization in this area without producing any new combination of cytoplasms involving the mitochondrial substitution, we conclude that paternal leakage is not a significant factor at this timescale. Such results confirm and expand our earlier conclusions based on controlled crosses.