The still little known concolor gibbons are represented by 14 taxa (five species, nine subspecies) distributed parapatrically in China, Myanmar, Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. To set the stage for a phylogeographic study of the genus we examined DNA sequences from the highly variable mitochondrial hypervariable region-1 (HVR-1 or control region) in 51 animals, mostly of unknown geographic provenance. We developed gibbon-specific primers to amplify mtDNA noninvasively and obtained >477 bp sequences from 38 gibbons in North American and European zoos and >159 bp sequences from ten Chinese museum skins. In hindsight, we believe these animals represent eight of the nine nominal subspecies and four of the five nominal species. Bayesian, maximum likelihood and maximum parsimony haplotype network analyses gave concordant results and show Nomascus to be monophyletic. Significant intraspecific variation within N. leucogenys (17 haplotypes) is comparable with that reported earlier in Hylobates lar and less than half the known interspecific pairwise distances in gibbons. Sequence data support the recognition of five species (concolor, leucogenys, nasutus, gabriellae and probably hainanus) and suggest that nasutus is the oldest and leucogenys, the youngest taxon. In contrast, the subspecies N. c. furvogaster, N. c. jingdongensis, and N. leucogenys siki, are not recognizable at this otherwise informative genetic locus. These results show that HVR-1 sequence is variable enough to define evolutionarily significant units in Nomascus and, if coupled with multilocus microsatellite or SNP genotyping, more than adequate to characterize their phylogeographic history. There is an urgent need to obtain DNA from gibbons of known geographic provenance before they are extirpated to facilitate the conservation genetic management of the surviving animals. Am. J. Primatol. 69:1285–1306, 2007. © 2007 Wiley-Liss, Inc.