The paper examines systematic relationships among primates between brain size (relative to body size) and differences in ecology and social system. Marked differences in relative brain size exist between families. These are correlated with inter-family differences in body size and home range size. Variation in comparative brain size within families is related to diet (folivores have comparatively smaller brains than frugivores), home range size and possibly also to breeding system. The adaptive significance of these relationships is discussed.