Gynoecium and ovule structure was compared in representatives of all families of the paleoherbs, including Nymphaeales (Cabombaceae, Nymphaeaceae), Piperales (Saururaceae, Piperaceae), Aristolochiales (Lactoridaceae, Aristolochiaceae), Rafflesiales (Hydnoraceae, Rafflesiaceae) and, in addition, Ceratophyllaceae and Nelumbonaceae, both of which were earlier included in Nymphaeales, but then segregated and with an unestablished position. In all representatives studied, the carpels are closed at anthesis. Carpel closure is attained in three different ways: (1) postgenital fusion of inner surfaces (Piperales, Aristolochiales); (2) occlusion by secretion or mutual appression of inner surfaces without postgenital fusion (Cabombaceae, Ceratophyllaceae, Nelumbonaceae (?) or (3) strong secretion combined with postgenital fusion at the periphery of the carpel (Nymphaeaceae). In Cytinus (Rafflesiaceae), after an earlier developmental stage with apparent postgenital fusion there is strong internal secretion (within the cell walls). Stigma shape tends to be double-crested in the basal taxa of each order: Cabombaceae (Brasenia), Saururaceae, and Lactoridaceae. In some Aristolochiaceae and Cytinus (Rafflesiaceae) they have two lobes in the transverse symmetry plane (i. e. at right angles to the median plane) or, if the carpels are united, the stigmatic lobes are commissural, accordingly. Stigmas are unicellular papillate and secretory in most taxa, but the papillae are uniseriate-pluricellular in some (not basal) Nymphaeaceae, Asaroideae (Aristolochiaceae) and Cytinus (Rafflesiaceae). Ceratophyllaceae have smooth stigmas. Intrusive oil cells in the carpel epidermis were found in Piperales and Aristolochiaceae. Mature ovules vary in length between 0. 2 mm and 2. 5 mm. Mature nucelli vary in breadth between 0. 03 mm and 1. 6 mm. These differences are larger than in the other major magnoliid groups. The outer integument is fully annular (not semiannular) in all taxa with orthotropous ovules (all Piperales and Barclaya of Nymphaeaceae) and also in some with anatropous ovules (some Nymphaeaceae, some Aristolochiaceae). The integuments are variously lobed or unlobed; both integuments tend to exhibit the same behaviour within a family, either both lobed or both unlobed. The results strongly support three pairs of families in sister group relationships, as suggested by studies based on other characters: Cabombaceae-Nymphaeaceae, Saururaceae-Piperaceae, and Lactoridaceae-Aristolochiaceae, and Hydnoraceae-Rafflesiaceae to some extent. Piperales and Aristolochiales are closer to each other than either is to Nymphaeales. Nelumbonaceae is isolated, as is Ceratophyllaceae, but the status of the latter is more difficult to interpret owing to apparent reduction in morphological, anatomical and histological traits.