The AFLP technique was used to assess the genetic relationships among the cultivated papaya ( Carica papaya L.) and related species native to Ecuador. Genetic distances based on AFLP data were estimated for 95 accessions belonging to three genera including C. papaya, at least eight Vasconcella species and two Jacaratia species. Cluster analysis using different methods and principal co-ordinate analysis (PCO), based on the AFLP data from 496 polymorphic bands generated with five primer combinations, was performed. The resulted grouping of accessions of each species corresponds largely with their taxonomic classifications and were found to be consistent with other studies based on RAPD, isozyme and cpDNA data. The AFLP analysis supports the recent rehabilitation of the Vasconcella group as a genus; until recently Vasconcella was considered as a section within the genus Carica. Both cluster and PCO analysis clearly separated the species of the three genera and illustrated the large genetic distance between C. papaya accessions and the Vasconcella group. The specific clustering of the highly diverse group of Vasconcella x heilbornii accessions also suggests that these genotypes may be the result of bi-directional introgression events between Vasconcella stipulata and Vasconcella cundinamarcensis.