Phylogenetic relationships in the genus Paphiopedilum were studied using nuclear ribosomal internal transcribed spacer (ITS) and plastid sequence data. The results confirm that the genus Paphiopedilum is monophyletic, and the division of the genus into three subgenera Parvisepalum, Brachypetalum and Paphiopedilum is well supported. Four sections of subgenus Paphiopedilum (Pardalopetalum, Cochlopetalum, Paphiopedilum and Barbata) are recovered as in a recent infrageneric treatment, with strong support. Section Coryopedilum is also recovered, with low bootstrap but high posterior probability values for support of monophyly. Relationships in section Barbata remain unresolved, and short branch lengths and the narrow geographical distribution of many species in the section suggest that it possibly underwent rapid radiation. Mapping chromosome and genome size data (including some new genome size measurements) onto the phylogenetic framework shows that there is no clear trend in increase in chromosome number in the genus. However, the diploid chromosome number of 2n = 26 in subgenera Parvisepalum and Brachypetalum suggests that this is the ancestral condition, and higher chromosome numbers in sections Cochlopetalum and Barbata suggest that centric fission has possibly occurred in parallel in these sections. The trend for genome size evolution is also unclear, although species in section Barbata have larger genome sizes than those in other sections. © 2012 The Linnean Society of London, Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society, 2012, 170, 176–196.