Allozymes were used to investigate the genetic structure of 42 populations of the planktonic developing, Macaronesian periwinkle Littorina striata, throughout its entire geographic range (Azores, Madeira, Canary Islands and Cape Verde Islands). This periwinkle is presumed to have a high dispersal and gene flow potential, because it has a planktonic development. It is therefore expected to show little population genetic differentiation. Indeed, based on Wright’s hierarchical F-statistics, no significant genetic differentiation could be detected among populations, at any of the specified hierarchical levels (i.e. population, island, and archipelago). Nevertheless, the Cape Verde Islands seemed genetically more diverse (highest mean number of alleles per locus). The number of loci revealing a significant genetic heterogeneity increased with increasing distance between populations, while private alleles based gene flow (Nm) estimates also revealed a tendency towards a geographical pattern. The distribution of rare and private alleles, might account for these observations which suggested some geographical effect. Because of the low frequency at which these alleles occur, their influence on the genetic population structure is negligible, and not picked up by F-statistics.