Recent molecular analyses have demonstrated that the traditional Lucinoidea, comprising the extant families Lucinidae, Thyasiridae, Ungulinidae, Fimbriidae, and Cyrenoididae, is not monophyletic. Thyasiridae and Ungulinidae are unrelated to Lucinidae, a result corroborated by clear morphological differences between the groups. Chemosymbiosis in Thyasiridae and Lucinidae has been independently derived. Within the family Lucinidae, previous ideas of relationship and subfamilial divisions based on shell characters have little support from molecular results. Anatomical characters of the ctenidia, mantle gills, and posterior apertures have potential in phylogenetic analysis but rigorous analysis of shell characters is also needed. Although there is a good fossil record of Lucinidae throughout the Cenozoic and Mesozoic, in the Palaeozoic fossils are less frequent and most need reappraisal. The Silurian Ilionia prisca is probably the earliest fossil with convincing lucinid features, followed in the Devonian by Phenacocyclas and some Paracyclas species. © 2006 The Linnean Society of London, Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society, 2006, 148, 421–438.