The cumacean family Bodotriidae includes 382 species in 31 genera grouped in three subfamilies: Bodotriinae, Mancocumatinae and Vaunthompsoniinae. Generic diagnoses are based on few characters that often have overlapping states among genera, complicating the understanding of the relationships within the group. The goals of this study are to illuminate the phylogenetic relationships among the genera of the Bodotriidae using morphological characters and to review the systematics of the family. For this purpose, all species within each genus were studied from the literature to code all the variability of genera for 109 variable morphological characters. Phylogenetic analyses show that there is independent reduction of the pleopods in two clades from a plesiomorphic state of five pairs, while the number of exopods of peraeopods has been reduced gradually in more derived groups of bodotriids. The subfamily Bodotriinae is the most derived and the Vaunthompsoniinae the most basal, and is paraphyletic with the Mancocumatinae embedded within it. No discriminatory characters were found between the subfamilies Mancocumatinae and Vaunthompsoniinae and they are not clearly separated in the phylogeny. Mancocumatinae is synonymized with Vaunthompsoniinae and all the genera of the former Mancocumatinae should be included within Vaunthompsoniinae. Analyses of character evolution justify a few other taxonomic changes. All genera were redescribed based on all the coded characters and a complete list of all valid species for each genus is included. Finally, dichotomous keys for identification to genus level are provided. © 2007 The Linnean Society of London, Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society, 2007, 151, 1–58.