We collected the first life history information on shortnose sturgeon (Acipenser brevirostrum) in any of the rivers to Chesapeake Bay, the geographic center of the species range. In the Potomac River, two telemetry-tagged adult females used 124 km of river: A saltwater/freshwater reach at river km (rkm) 63-141 was the foraging-wintering concentration area, and one female migrated to spawn at rkm 187 in Washington, DC. The spawning migration explained the life history context of an adult captured 122 years ago in Washington, DC, supporting the idea that a natal population once lived in the river. Repeated homing migrations to foraging and wintering areas suggested the adults were residents, not transient coastal migrants. All habitats that adults need to complete life history are present in the river. The Potomac River shortnose sturgeon offers a rare opportunity to learn about the natural rebuilding of a sturgeon population. ?? 2009 Blackwell Verlag, Berlin.