Domestication entails control of wild species and is generally regarded as a complex process confined to a restricted area and culture. Previous DNA sequence analyses of several domestic species have suggested only a limited number of origination events. We analyzed mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) control region sequences of 191 domestic horses and found a high diversity of matrilines. Sequence analysis of equids from archaeological sites and late Pleistocene deposits showed that this diversity was not due to an accelerated mutation rate or an ancient domestication event. Consequently, high mtDNA sequence diversity of horses implies an unprecedented and widespread integration of matrilines and an extensive utilization and taming of wild horses. However, genetic variation at nuclear markers is partitioned among horse breeds and may reflect sex-biased dispersal and breeding.