Aquatic plants have great influence on the structure and dynamics of aquatic ecosystems, thereby contributing considerably to biodiversity. In Brazil, knowledge of the biodiversity of aquatic macroflora is still limited. We present a checklist of aquatic macrophytes occurring in the northeastern region of Brazil through a bibliographic search. We recorded a total of 412 species, 217 genera and 72 families. The most representative families were Cyperaceae (70 species), Poaceae (38), Fabaceae (27) and Asteraceae (20). The States with highest number of species were Pernambuco (370), Bahia (360), Ceará (267) and Paraíba (261). The best-represented life forms were amphibious (193 species) and emergent (100). The aquatic flora of Northeastern Brazil exhibits high species richness; however, there is a scarcity of records of aquatic macrophytes for the States of Alagoas, Rio Grande do Norte, Maranhão, Sergipe and Piauí.