Interrelationships of the tapeworms (Platyhelminthes: Cestoda) were examined by use of small (SSU) and large (LSU) subunit ribosomal DNA sequences and morphological characters. Fifty new complete SSU sequences were added to 21 sequences previously determined, and 71 new LSU (D1-D3) sequences were determined for the complementary set of taxa representing each of the major lineages of cestodes as currently understood. New sequences were determined for three amphilinidean taxa, but were removed from both alignments due to their excessively high degree of divergence from other cestode sequences. A morphological character matrix coded for supraspecific taxa was constructed by the modification of matrices from recently published studies. Maximum-parsimony (MP) analyses were performed on the LSU, SSU, LSU+SSU, and morphological data partitions, and minimum-evolution (ME) analyses utilizing a general time reversible model of nucleotide substitution including estimates of among-site rate heterogeneity were performed on the molecular data partitions. Resulting topologies were rooted at the node separating the Gyrocotylidea from the Eucestoda. The LSU data were found to be more informative than the SSU data and were more consistent with inferences from morphology, although nodal support was generally weak for most basal nodes. One class of transitions was found to be saturated for comparisons between the most distantly related taxa (gyrocotylideans vs cyclophyllideans and tetrabothriideans). Differences in the topologies resulting from MP and ME analyses were not statistically significant. Nonstrobilate orders formed the basal lineages of trees resulting from analysis of LSU data and morphology. Difossate orders were basal to tetrafossate orders, the latter of which formed a strongly supported clade. A clade including the orders Cyclophyllidea, Nippotaeniidea, and Tetrabothriidea was supported by all data partitions and methods of analysis. Paraphyly of the orders Pseudophyllidea, Tetraphyllidea, and Trypanorhyncha was consistent among the molecular data partitions. Inferences are made regarding a monozoic (nonsegmented) origin of the Eucestoda as represented by the Caryophyllidea and for the evolution of the strobilate and acetabulate/tetrafossate conditions having evolved in a stepwise pattern. Copyright 2001 Academic Press.