The upper Daguanshan Formation (middle Expansograptus hirundo graptolite biozone, Dapingian, early Middle Ordovician) of the Shuanghe area, Changning County, southern Sichuan Province, contains three new genera and species of strophomenoids: Ochyromena plana, Shuangheella elongata, and Primotimena globula, which are attributed to the Strophomenidae, Rafinesquinidae and Glyptomenidae respectively. These are the earliest known strophomenoids from the South China palaeoplate, and also the oldest rafinesquinid and glyptomenid brachiopods worldwide. Global review of the superfamily Strophomenoidea of Middle Ordovician age suggests that the first diversity peak at the species level occurred in late Darriwilian (Llanvirn) time, mainly as a result of the rapid diversification of the family Strophomenidae. The first appearance datum (FAD) of strophomenoids and their possible westward dispersal were from North China (latest Floian) and/or South China (early Dapingian), through the Chu-Ili terrane of Kazakhstan, Iran, and Baltica (early Darriwilian), to Avalonia and Laurentia (late Darriwilian). This points to the existence of early diversification hotspots of the strophomenoid superfamily in the North and South China palaeoplates during the early Middle Ordovician in generally shallow water (corresponding to BA2) environments. The high degree of similarity in the external morphology and ventral interior of the three new genera indicates that the early diversification of strophomenoids began with differentiation of the cardinalia, especially in the configuration of the bilobed cardinal process, a key evolutionary novelty for the strophomenoids.