The timing and nature of the arrival and the subsequent expansion of modern humans into eastern Asia remains controversial. Using Y-chromosome biallelic markers, we investigated the ancient human-migration patterns in eastern Asia. Our data indicate that southern populations in eastern Asia are much more polymorphic than northern populations, which have only a subset of the southern haplotypes. This pattern indicates that the first settlement of modern humans in eastern Asia occurred in mainland Southeast Asia during the last Ice Age, coinciding with the absence of human fossils in eastern Asia, 50,000-100,000 years ago. After the initial peopling, a great northward migration extended into northern China and Siberia.