Charax awa sp. n. is herein described from the Rio Mearim, Rio Munim and Rio Turiaçu basins, three coastal river basins of northeastern Brazil located between the Rios Gurupi and Parnaíba basins. These have a complex and still poorly known biogeographic history. This region is ecologically extremely relevant since it comprises three of the main Brazilian biomes, as well as, transition zones between them: Amazônia, Brazilian Cerrado and Caatinga. Therefore, this area has faunal and floristic representatives of these three biomes, which makes it particularly relevant in terms of ecology, biodiversity and conservation. Charax awa sp. n. possesses a relatively small orbital diameter (22.1–28.5 % HL), what distinguishes it from most of its congeners, except from C. notulatus and C. caudimaculatus. It differs from C. caudimaculatus by a longer snout, and from C. notulatus by the number of scales around the caudal peduncle, as well as by the number of vertebrae. The new species herein described differs from its geographically closely distributed congeners, C. leticiae, C. niger, and C. pauciradiatus mainly by the relative horizontal orbital diameter. It is a “small-eyed” species. In addition, C. awa sp. n. can be distinguished from C. leticiae by having a maxilla extending to the vertical line posterior to the pupil, near the posterior orbital margin and by having a lower humeral spot distance. It can be distinguished from C. pauciradiatus by more scale rows from the pelvic-fin origin to the lateral line and more scale rows from the dorsal-fin origin to the lateral line and it differs from C. niger by having more transverse scale rows in space from the humeral spot to the supracleithrum. In addition, it differs from C. pauciradiatus and C. niger by the absence of bony hooks on anal and pelvic-fins rays of adult males.