Although notothenioid fishes lack swim bladders, some species live temporarily or permanently in the water column. Given its relatively high density, skeletal mass is a key determinant of buoyancy. Notothenioids have reduced skeletal ossification, but there is little quantitative data on the phylogenetic distribution of this trait. We obtained dry skeletal masses for 54 specimens representing 20 species from six notothenioid families. Although comparative data are sparse, notothenioid skeletons comprise a smaller percentage of body mass, <3.5%, than those of three non-notothenioid perciforms. With relatively high skeletal mass, the non-Antarctic Bovichtus diacanthus is similar in skeletal mass to some non-notothenioids. Eleginops maclovinus, the non-Antarctic sister group of the Antarctic clade, has a relatively light skeleton (<2% of body mass) similar to many species in the Antarctic clade. Low skeletal mass is therefore a synapomorphy shared by Eleginops plus the Antarctic clade. We provide gross, histological, and micro-CT documentation of the structure and location of bone and cartilage in skulls, pectoral girdles, and vertebrae, with emphasis on the bovichtid B. diacanthus, the eleginopsid E. maclovinus, and the channichthyid Chaenodraco wilsoni. In Eleginops and the Antarctic clade, most bone is spongy and most species have persisting cartilage in the skull and appendicular skeleton. We also measured the relative size of the notochordal canal in adult vertebral centra of 38 species representing all eight families. There is considerable interspecific variation in this pedomorphic trait and all species show an ontogenetic reduction in the relative size of the canal. However, large persisting canals are present in adults of the Antarctic clade, especially in the nototheniids Pleuragramma and Aethotaxis and in a number of bathydraconid and channichthyid genera. J. Morphol. 275:841–861, 2014. © 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.