Aphanomyces euteiches (races 1 and 2) causes root rot of alfalfa; however, its population biology and distribution are poorly understood where alfalfa is a major crop. The objectives of this study were to (1) characterise the distribution and frequency of races of A. euteiches in Illinois alfalfa fields, (2) determine host range of A. euteiches on cultivated and native legumes, and (iii) to describe genetic diversity and population genetic structure of A. euteiches in alfalfa fields. To accomplish this, soil samples (n=103) were collected from 30 alfalfa fields in 18 Illinois counties. Using the susceptible cv. 'Saranac', 148 isolates of A. euteiches were baited from the soil. The virulence phenotype of isolates representing all 18 counties was tested, and 54% were R1 and 46% were R2. Both races were detected in 61% of the counties, whereas only R1 was detected in 22% and R2 in 17%. Thirteen legume hosts for isolates from alfalfa fields were identified based on symptoms and/or production of oospores in roots. In addition to six previously known hosts, seven species were susceptible to infection: kura clover, purple prairie clover, white prairie clover, ladino clover, hairy vetch, Canadian milk vetch, and Illinois tick trefoil. AFLP analysis revealed high levels of genetic diversity among the isolates from different fields and counties and a lack of genetic structuring of populations based on race or geographical origin. The results suggest that populations of A. euteiches in alfalfa fields are diverse, often composed of races 1 and 2, and create risk for alfalfa and to multiple cultivated and native legume species.