Abstract. The phylogenetic relationships of the genera, subgenera and species-groups of the Vespinae are analysed using cladistic techniques. The results are used as the basis for a natural classification of these wasps. The cladogram for the four genera recognized is: Vespa+(Provespa + (Dolichovespula + Vespula)). No subgenera are recognized; all those previously described are synonymized with the appropriate genus. The synonymies of Nyctovespa with Vespa and Rugovespula with Vespula are new.