A cladistic analysis of the Empidoidea and basal lineages of the Cyclorrhapha, based on morphological characters, confirms the monophyly of both groups as well as that of the Eremoneura. The resulting final trees are used to revise the classification of the Empidoidea to include the following five families: Empididae, Hybotidae, Atelestidae (including Nemedininae n. subfam.), Brachystomatidae rev. stat. (comprising the subfamilies Brachystomatinae, Ceratomerinae and Trichopezinae), and Dolichopodidae s.lat. The family Microphoridae is not recognized, and the Microphorinae and Parathalassiinae are assigned to the Dolichopodidae s.lat. The Dolichopodidae s.str. includes 15 subfamilies that were previously recognized within the family. Within the Empidoidea we found support for Atelestidae as the sister group to the Hybotidae and for the monophyly of Parathalassiinae + Dolichopodidae s.str. The Empididae remains poorly defined and the genera Homalocnemis Philippi, Iteaphila Zetterstedt, Anthepiscopus Becker, and Oreogeton Schiner are classified as incertae sedis within the Empidoidea. In addition, the following higher taxa are proposed: Symballophthalmini n. tribe, Bicellariini n. tribe, Oedaleinae rev. stat., and Trichininae rev. stat., which are all assigned to the Hybotidae. The genus Sematopoda Collin is tentatively assigned to Trichopezinae, and Xanthodromia Saigusa is transferred from Hemerodromiinae to Brachystomatinae. All morphological characters are extensively discussed and illustrated, including details of the antennae, mouthparts, internal thoracic structures, wings, and male and female terminalia. In addition, a key to families and unplaced genus groups of the Empidoidea is provided. Feeding habits are also discussed in terms of the empidoid ground plan condition.