The adaptive potential of the northernmost Pinus sylvestris L. (and other northern tree) populations is considered by examining first the current patterns of quantitative genetic adaptive traits, which show high population differentiation and clines. We then consider the postglacial history of the populations using both paleobiological and genetic data. The current patterns of diversity at nuclear genes suggest that the traces of admixture are mostly visible in mitochondrial DNA variation patterns. There is little evidence of increased diversity due to admixture between an eastern and western colonization lineage, but no signal of reduced diversity (due to sequential bottlenecks) either. Quantitative trait variation in the north is not associated with the colonizing lineages. The current clines arose rapidly and may be based on standing genetic variation. The initial phenotypic response of Scots pine in the north is predicted to be increased survival and growth. The genetic responses are examined based on quantitative genetic predictions of sustained selection response and compared with earlier simulation results that have aimed at more ecological realism. The phenotypic responses of increased growth and survival reduce the opportunity for selection and delay the evolutionary responses. The lengthening of the thermal growing period also causes selection on the critical photoperiod in the different populations. Future studies should aim at including multiple ecological and genetic factors in evaluating potential responses.