The genus Probactrosaurus was first established for material discovered by a joint Russian/Chinese expedition to the Chinese autonomous region of Neimongol (Inner Mongolia). Fossils were collected at a site named Maorty (= Maortu). Material attributable to ornithopod dinosaurs was considered sufficiently distinct to permit the definition of two species of the new genus: Probactrosaurus gobiensis and P. alashanicus. The former species was based on a considerable quantity of skeletal material, much of which is still to be found in the collections of the Palaeontological Institute (PIN), Moscow. The latter was based on far less well-preserved specimens, including a holotype (a posterior skull roof) that can no longer be found in the collections of the PIN and which, along with other materials, was reportedly returned to the Institute of Vertebrate Palaeontology and Palaeoanthropology, Beijing. Some remnants of the original material attributed to P. alashanicus have been located in the PIN collections. Both taxa, established by A. K. Rozhdestvensky, are re-described using all of the available material collected during the early Sino-Soviet expeditions. Probactrosaurus alashanicus is considered to be a junior subjective synonym of P. gobiensis. Further comparisons are made with the recently described species Probactrosaurus mazongshanensis Lu, 1997. The latter does not appear to be referable to the genus Probactrosaurus. Probactrosaurus is a gracile ornithopod (ranging between 4 and 6 m in length). The skull is unadorned by any form of cranial crest; however, the premaxillary beak is deflected ventrally and the dentition is similar to that seen in more derived hadrosaurid ornithopods. The postcranial skeleton is notable for its gracility, in particular the elongate forearm and manus, and the retention of a small, conical pollex spine. Systematic analysis suggests that P. gobiensis is a derived non-hadrosaurid iguanodontian ornithopod and the basal sister-taxon to the clade Hadrosauridae. The phylogeny of currently known iguanodontians is reviewed. © 2002 The Linnean Society of London, Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society, 2002, 136, 113–144.