The present study estimates genetic variability with a set of 25 microsatellite markers in a random sample of 50 animals of Tharparkar breed of Indian zebu (Bos indicus) cattle. Tharparkar is a dual-purpose breed, valued for its milk as well as draught utility, and is adapted to the inhospitable Thar desert conditions of Rajasthan typified by summer temperature hovering above 50°C, sparse rainfall and vegetation, and scarcity of even drinking water. The observed number of alleles ranged from 4 (ETH3, ILSTS030, INRA5, INRA63 and MM8) to 11 (HEL9 and ILSTS034), with allelic diversity (average number of observed alleles per locus) of 6.20. Observed and expected heterozygosity ranged from 0.25 (INRA63) to 0.77 (ETH10), and from 0.51 (HEL5 and HAUT27) to 0.88 (HEL9) respectively. Wide range of genetic variability supported the utility of these microsatellite loci in measurement of genetic diversity indices in other Indian cattle breeds too. Various average genetic variability measures, namely allele diversity (6.20), observed heterozygosity (0.57), expected heterozygosity (0.67) and mean polymorphism information content (0.60) values showed substantial within-breed genetic variability in this major breed of Rajasthan, despite accumulated inbreeding as reflected by high average inbreeding coefficient (F1S = 0.39). The Tharparkar population has not experienced a bottleneck in the recent past.