Sperm transfer by spermatophore is reported as a common and possibly primitive feature of the Diopsidae (Diptera, Schizophora). Spermatophores occur in four out of five investigated genera, in Cyrtodiopsis, Diasemopsis, Teleopsis, and in Sphyracephala, which is positioned close to the base of the family. Within the genus Diopsis the spermatophore is subject to reduction. Spermatophore size and copulation duration are positively correlated across the species. This is only partially explained by the time requirement of sperm transfer. Parsimony in time and material seems to be favoured in species with high mating frequency at special aggregation sites, whereas high investment in time and material occurs in species that do not mate preferentially at certain times or locations. The utilization of spermatophores has strong implications on the possibilities of sperm competition and cryptic female choice and may account for the occurrence of a postcopulatory passive phase or prolonged mating in some species. The increasing number of records of spermatophores in Diptera is reviewed.