To investigate in detail the paternal and maternal demographic histories of humans, we obtained ~500 kb of non-recombining Y chromosome (NRY) sequences and complete mtDNA genome sequences from 623 males from 51 populations in the CEPH Human Genome Diversity Panel (HGDP). Our results: confirm the controversial assertion that genetic differences between human populations on a global scale are bigger for the NRY than for mtDNA; suggest very small ancestral effective population sizes (<100) for the out-of-Africa migration as well as for many human populations; and indicate that the ratio of female effective population size to male effective population size (Nf/Nm) has been greater than one throughout the history of modern humans, and has recently increased due to faster growth in Nf. However, we also find substantial differences in patterns of mtDNA vs. NRY variation in different regional groups; thus, global patterns of variation are not necessarily representative of specific geographic regions.