The species of the genus Syringa L. are among the most popular ornamental plants worldwide. One particular species, Syringa josikaea, a rare endemic of the Carpathian Mountains, is of great conservation interest. Although microsatellite markers may be useful for studying the genetic variability of varieties and populations, no microsatellites have previously been characterized for any species of the Syringa genus. Our aim was therefore to test the applicability of microsatellite primers developed for neighboring genera (Olea and Ligustrum) and to complement these with markers isolated and characterized for S. josikaea. Twelve primer pairs of Olea and Ligustrum were tested by optimizing PCR conditions and checking the variability in 40 samples of two populations of S. josikaea. Two of them proved to be easy to PCR amplify and variable at the same time. To develop new primers we constructed a microsatellite enriched library and sequenced 48 clones. 18 sequences contained microsatellite motifs, and three of the designed primer pairs presented high allele variability. The five primer pairs characterized for S. josikaea proved to be highly informative and sufficient to distinguish between individuals. These microsatellite primers are valuable tools to study genetic variation of native populations, genetic lineages of hybrids and cultivars of S. josikaea.