Background Although avian Plasmodium species are widespread and common across the globe, limited data exist on how genetically variable their populations are. Here, the hypothesis that the avian blood parasite Plasmodium relictum exhibits very low genetic diversity in its Western Palearctic transmission area (from Morocco to Sweden in the north and Transcaucasia in the east) was tested. Methods The genetic diversity of Plasmodium relictum was investigated by sequencing a portion (block 14) of the fast-evolving merozoite surface protein 1 (MSP1) gene in 75 different P. relictum infections from 36 host species. Furthermore, the full-length MSP1 sequences representing the common block 14 allele was sequenced in order to investigate if additional variation could be found outside block 14. Results The majority (72 of 75) of the sequenced infections shared the same MSP1 allele. This common allele has previously been found to be the dominant allele transmitted in Europe. Conclusion The results corroborate earlier findings derived from a limited dataset that the globally transmitted malaria parasite P. relictum exhibits very low genetic diversity in its Western Palearctic transmission area. This is likely the result of a recent introduction event or a selective sweep.