On the basis of the study of c. 1100 herbarium specimens, field observations and molecular (ITS, AFLPs) evidence, Primula sect. Auricula is classified into two subsections, 25 species and six subspecies. Primula auricula L. ssp. widmerae (Pax) L. B. Zhang stat. nov., P. auricula Linn. ssp. tatriaca L. B. Zhang ssp. nov., and P. latifolia Lapeyr. ssp. cynoglossifolia (Widmer) L. B. Zhang stat. nov. are newly described or combined; P. auricula s.l. is divided into two species: P. auricula Linn. and P. balbisii Lehm., representing the northern and the southern populations of P. auricula s.l. resolved in the molecular study, respectively; P. cottia Widmer and P. balbisii Lehm. are recovered from synonymy; P. grignensis D. M. Moser and P. pedemontana E. Thomas ex. Gaudin ssp. iberica Losa et P. Monts. are synonymized with P. hirsuta All. and P. pedemontana, respectively; P. clusiana is postulated to be an allopolyploid species. Phylogenetic relationships in the section are discussed based on morphological and molecular variation and geographical distribution. © 2004 The Linnean Society of London, Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society, 2004, 146, 1–26.