The white clover ( Trifolium repens) nuclear genome (n = 2x = 16) is an important yet under-characterised genetic environment. We have developed simple sequence repeat (SSR) genetic markers for the white clover genome by mining an expressed sequence tag (EST) database and by isolation from enriched genomic libraries. A total of 2,086 EST-derived SSRs (EST-SSRs) were identified among 26,480 database accessions. Evaluation of 792 EST-SSR primer pairs resulted in 566 usable EST-SSRs. Of these, 335 polymorphic EST-SSRs, used in concert with 30 genomic SSRs, detected 493 loci in the white clover genome using 92 F1 progeny from a pair cross between two highly heterozygous genotypes--364/7 and 6525/5. Map length, as estimated using the joinmap algorithm, was 1,144 cM and spanned all 16 homologues. The R (red leaf) locus was mapped to linkage group B1 and is tightly linked to the microsatellite locus prs318c. The eight homoeologous pairs of linkage groups within the white clover genome were identified using 96 homoeologous loci. Segregation distortion was detected in four areas (groups A1, D1, D2 and H2). Marker locus density varied among and within linkage groups. This is the first time EST-SSRs have been used to build a whole-genome functional map and to describe subgenome organisation in an allopolyploid species, and T. repens is the only Trifolieae species to date to be mapped exclusively with SSRs. This gene-based microsatellite map will enable the resolution of quantitative traits into Mendelian characters, the characterisation of syntenic relationships with other genomes and acceleration of white clover improvement programmes.