Understanding early-life habitats is crucial for managing non-indigenous large river fishes such as silver carp that are threatening to invade the Great Lakes and may significantly impact economically valuable Great Lakes fisheries. Silver carp inhabiting the upper Illinois River directly below the electrical deterrent barrier (installed on a canal in the Chicago area that connects the Illinois River with Lake Michigan) possess the greatest potential to invade the Great Lakes. However, adult silver carp inhabiting this reach of the Illinois River may have originated from many points throughout the Mississippi River basin (e.g., Illinois River or Middle Mississippi River), and the relative importance of these potential origination locations is unknown. As such, this study was used to identify natal habitats of adult silver carp in the upper portion of the Illinois River. Based on the stable oxygen and stable carbon isotopes of otoliths (earstones) from individual fish, we have determined that silver carp inhabiting the area below the electric barrier originated from within the Illinois River itself, the Middle Mississippi River, and floodplain lakes along the lower Illinois River valley. Because of the geographically widespread points of origin for individual fish, management efforts for eradication or control of silver carp in the upper Illinois River should be directed at a similarly broad geographic scale. While potentially challenging to implement, large-scale removal of silver carp and the closely related bighead carp in the Illinois and Mississippi Rivers could greatly reduce the probability of these species breaching the electrical barriers and entering the Great Lakes.