Fifteen highly polymorphic microsatellite loci were characterized in the reed bunting, Emberiza schoeniclus. Eleven loci were autosomal and four linked to the Z chromosome. All loci were characterized and tested in 45 unrelated reed buntings from a Swiss population. Autosomal loci displayed seven to 17 and sex-linked loci displayed four to 13 alleles with heterozygosities ranging from 0.756 to 0.933 and from 0.478 to 0.957, respectively. These loci will be used in population genetic and mating system studies of reed buntings.