Molecular phylogeny of the four Korean Ephemera species, Ephemera orientalis, E. sachalinensis, E. strigata, and E. separigata, was inferred from 630 bp sequences of the partial mitochondrial cytochrome c oxidase I (COI) gene. Results indicated that mean intraspecific sequence divergences were 0.70%, whereas mean interspecific divergences were 15.75%, and 17 samples were distinguished to four species correctly by COI sequences. The results also demonstrated that four species of Korean Ephemera assembled a monophyletic group with high support in maximum parsimony and maximum likelihood analyses. This Ephemera group was divided into two major clades of E. orientalis–E. sachalinensis and E. strigata–E. separigata. Furthermore, we demonstrated that this phylogeny explained altitudinal and habitat adaptations of Korean Ephemera species. The E. orientalis–E. sachalinensis clade, a widespread and lowland-adapted mayfly group, retained plesiomorphic traits such as paired stripes on abdominal segments and was regarded as plesiotypic in terms of habitat adaptation, compared to the geographically more limited and upland-adapted E. strigata–E. separigata clade.