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Abstract.  Morphological characters and molecular sequence data were for the first time analysed separately and combined for the true water bugs (Hemiptera–Heteroptera, infraorder Nepomorpha). Data from forty species representing all families were included, together with two outgroup species representing the infraorders Gerromorpha and Leptopodomorpha. The morphological data matrix consisted of sixty-five characters obtained from literature sources. Molecular data included approximately 960 bp from the mitochondrial gene 16S and the nuclear gene 28S for all forty-two terminal taxa. The morphological dataset was analysed using maximum parsimony and the combined morphological and molecular (16S + 28S rDNA) dataset was analysed using direct optimization. A sensitivity analysis of sixteen different sets of parameters (various combinations of insertion–deletion cost and transversion costs) was undertaken. Character congruence was used as an optimality criterion to choose among competing phylogenetic hypotheses. The final hypothesis was obtained from the analysis of the combined molecular and mor phological dataset with the most congruent parameter set. This hypothesis supports the monophyly of all currently recognized families of Nepomorpha, and of the superfamilies Nepoidea (Nepidae + Belostomatidae), Corixoidea (Corixidae), Ochteroidea Ochteridae + Gelastocoridae), Notonectoidea (Notonectidae), and Pleoidea (Pleidae + Helotrephidae), but not the monophyly of the Naucoroidea (Naucoridae + Aphelocheiridae + Potamocoridae). The close relationship between the Notonectidae and Pleoidea is also supported. Our hypothesis concurs with Mahner in the placement of the Corixidae as a sister group to the remaining nepomorphan superfamilies except the Nepoidea, but differs in the placement of the Ochteroidea as a sister group to the Notonectoidea + Pleoidea. The superfamily Naucoroidea should be limited to only including the family Naucoridae and not the families Aphelocheiridae and Potamocoridae. The present analysis strongly supports a sister group relationship between the families Aphelocheiridae and Potamocoridae, a monophylum for which we propose a new superfamily, Aphelocheiroidea.