Abstract Background RAD-seq is a powerful tool, increasingly used in population genomics. However, earlier studies have raised red flags regarding possible biases associated with this technique. In particular, polymorphism on restriction sites results in preferential sampling of closely related haplotypes, so that RAD data tends to underestimate genetic diversity. Results Here we (1) clarify the theoretical basis of this bias, highlighting the potential confounding effects of population structure and selection, (2) confront predictions to real data from in silico digestion of full genomes and (3) provide a proof of concept toward an ABC-based correction of the RAD-seq bias. Under a neutral and panmictic model, we confirm the previously established relationship between the true polymorphism and its RAD-based estimation, showing a more pronounced bias when polymorphism is high. Using more elaborate models, we show that selection, resulting in heterogeneous levels of polymorphism along the genome, exacerbates the bias and leads to a more pronounced underestimation. On the contrary, spatial genetic structure tends to reduce the bias. We confront the neutral and panmictic model to â idealâ empirical data (in silico RAD-sequencing) using full genomes from natural populations of the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster and the fungus Shizophyllum commune, harbouring respectively moderate and high genetic diversity. In D. melanogaster, predictions fit the model, but the small difference between the true and RAD polymorphism makes this comparison insensitive to deviations from the model. In the highly polymorphic fungus, the model captures a large part of the bias but makes inaccurate predictions. Accordingly, ABC corrections based on this model improve the estimations, albeit with some imprecisions. Conclusion The RAD-seq underestimation of genetic diversity associated with polymorphism in restriction sites becomes more pronounced when polymorphism is high. In practice, this means that in many systems where polymorphism does not exceed 2Â %, the bias is of minor importance in the face of other sources of uncertainty, such as heterogeneous bases composition or technical artefacts. The neutral panmictic model provides a practical mean to correct the bias through ABC, albeit with some imprecisions. More elaborate ABC methods might integrate additional parameters, such as population structure and selection, but their opposite effects could hinder accurate corrections.