Genetic variability at the nucleic acid level has been examined in 16 Vida faba accessions and in four Vida species. Both six and four base-pair cutting restriction enzymes together with cDNA clones were used to assess the level of polymorphism detectable in Vida section Faba. Nei’s estimate of the number of shared fragments and principal co-ordinate analysis were used to examine and quantify the relationship between the Vida accessions. The degree of polymorphism detected was considerably reduced when the four wild Vida species were excluded from the analysis. One Vida faba genotype, AxBxC, a three-way hybrid, was responsible for the majority of the RFLPs identified within the Vida faba genotypes. The identification of hybridisable but diverse parents will improve the efficiency of creating a linkage map based on molecular markers. The nature of the polymorphism detected in Vida is discussed together with the role of molecular markers in Vida faba improvement programmes.