A flavonoid survey was carried out on 45 taxa from the genera Shorea, Hopea, Parashorea, Neobalanocarpus, and Dryobalanops of the tribe Shoreae in the Dipterocarpaceae. The study showed significant chemotaxonomic differences in leaf flavonoid aglycone patterns and the presence of tannins in these taxa. The flavonoid patterns are useful in the delimitation of some taxa. For example, the genus Parashorea is distinguished by the universal presence of kaempferol 3-methyl ether, and the monotypic genus Neobalanocarpus is unique in not producing ellagic and gallo tannins. The presence of chalcones and flavone C-glycosides supports the separation of the genus Hopea into two sections, section Dryobalanoides and section Hopea in Ashton's classification, which is based on the type of venation. The flavonoid distributions in this study show that they can be very useful for differentiating between the Balau group in the genus Shorea and some scaly barked Hopea species, particularly H. helferi (lintah bukit), H. nutans (giam), and H. ferrea (malut). © 2008 The Linnean Society of London, Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society, 2008, 157, 755–762.