Cytochrome b sequences were used to investigate both the systematic position of the Musophagidae and the species relationships within the family. Phylogenetic analyses (neighbour-joining, maximum likelihood and maximum parsimony) supported the hypothesis that the Musophagidae are more closely related to the cuckoos, parrots and the Hoatzin than the gamebirds. Within the family, three major clades are evident that correspond to the three subfamilies generally recognized. The ‘grey turacos’ and the turacin-bearing turacos form two separate monophyletic groups. Corythaixoides leucogaster appears to be basal within the subfamily Criniferinae (the ‘grey turacos’). This analysis yields a hypothesis for the controversy surrounding the position of Gallirex porphyreolophus and Tauraco johnstoni, which appear to be closely related and basal to the other turacin-bearing turacos. The Musophaga species are placed within the Tauraco clade and appear to be specialized forms of typical turacos. The superspecies persa forms a monophyletic group, within which T. hartlaubi falls. This is an association that has not been suggested previously.