Pseudolaelia is endemic to eastern Brazil, with 12 recognized species occurring primarily in the Atlantic Forest and the cerrado, two of the world's biodiversity hotspots. The aims of this study were to: characterize the geographical distribution patterns, richness, diversity and endemism of Pseudolaelia spp.; compare their distribution with that of Full Protection Conservation Units (FPCUs) and priority areas for biodiversity conservation in Brazil; and determine the species conservation status, indicating areas important for conservation. The biogeography of Pseudolaelia was analysed using herbarium specimens and natural populations, parsimony analysis and geographic information systems. The conservation status was defined according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Half of Pseudolaelia spp. are known from less than five sites, and four are micro-endemic, being known from a single site. Nine species should be considered as endangered as a result of habitat degradation. Four species are protected within FPCUs; micro-endemic species are not found in the priority areas for biodiversity conservation. The region of greatest richness, endemism and diversity encompasses the mountainous area in the north-west and north of Espírito Santo and the border with Minas Gerais, this being the central portion of the Cadeia do Espinhaço (Minas Gerais), a centre of secondary richness and diversity. © 2012 The Linnean Society of London, Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society, 2012, ●●, ●●–●●.