Allozyme and randomly amplified polymorphic DNA (RAPD) analyses were used to characterize the genetic relationships of Dalea purpurea from remnant and restored Illinois tallgrass prairies and a large remnant tallgrass prairie in Kansas. The remnant Illinois populations were less genetically diverse than the restored Illinois populations and the Kansas population. These restored Illinois populations were established with at least two seed sources that were locally collected. There was little population divergence (Fst = 0.042), which ST is consistent with other perennial forbs, while the genetic relationships among populations reflected geographic proximity. In a greenhouse competition experiment, differences in performance between seedlings was not related to the remnant or restored status of Illinois populations, but plants from Kansas were significantly smaller than Illinois plants. Genetic diversity and competitive ability were not associated with the size of the original source population. Our data indicate that using multiple local seed sources for restoration projects will maintain the local gene pool while enhancing the regional genetic diversity of this species.