Characters of the thorax of 30 representatives of all endopterygote orders and four hemimetabolous outgroup taxa were examined. In total, 126 characters potentially useful for phylogenetic reconstruction are discussed and presented as a data matrix. The thoracic features were analysed with different approaches combined with an additional large set of morphological data. Endopterygota were confirmed as monophyletic and new morphological autapomorphies of the group are suggested. The highly controversial Strepsiptera are not placed as sistergroup of Diptera (Halteria-concept) but consistently as sistergroup of Coleoptera. This clade was mainly supported by characters associated with posteromotorism. The traditionally proposed relationship of Neuropterida + Coleoptera was not confirmed. Hymenoptera was placed as sistergroup of all remaining orders in parsimony analyses. The inclusion of Strepsiptera + Coleoptera in Mecopterida in parsimony analyses is probably artificial and potential thoracic autapomorphies of Mecopterida in the traditional sense are suggested. Mecopterida are confirmed as a clade in Bayesian analyses. Amphiesmenoptera and Antliophora are well supported. The paraphyly of Mecoptera is due to a clade comprising Nannochoristidae and Siphonaptera + Diptera. The phylogenetic reconstruction using characters of the thorax is impeded by functional constraints, parallel losses, a general trend to reinforce the skeleton and to simplify the muscular apparatus, and also by different specializations occurring in potential outgroup taxa. The addition of a large additional morphological data set only partly compensated for these problems. It is apparent that the inclusion of more outgroup and ingroup taxa is required, notably presumably basal representatives of Mecoptera, Trichoptera, and Diptera. This may reduce the effect of an artificial attraction of branches caused by homoplasy, notably character losses occurring within different lineages.© The Willi Hennig Society 2010.