Phenotypic evolutionary rates are reported for cranial characters of eight species of large-bodied Neotropical marsupials: Didelphis aurita, D. marsupialis, D. albiventris, Philander opossum, P. frenata, Lutreolina crassicaudata, Chironectes minimus, and Metachirus nudicaudatus. These rates were found to be lower than expected if cranial diversification in these opossums had occurred by mutation and genetic drift only, and it is clear that a greater diversification was prevented. As all parameters used in estimating rates were very conservative, the conclusion that stabilizing selection has predominated during the evolution of the skull of large-bodied opossums is fairly robust. We also show that directional selection sustained for 150 generations (158 years) or less is capable of producing differences of the same magnitudes as those found between various pairs of species. Therefore, we conclude that even where a particular differentiation has been caused by directional selection, neutral rate tests are unlikely to infer it. This is because following a morphological shift, stabilizing selection will progressively erase evidences of directional selection.