Uncovering the systematics of Copepoda Harpacticoida, the second-most abundant component of the meiobenthos after Nematoda, is of major importance for any further research dedicated especially to ecological and biogeographical approaches. Based on the evolution of the podogennontan first swimming leg, a new phylogenetic concept of the Ancorabolidae Sars and Cletodidae T. Scott sensu Por (Copepoda, Harpacticoida) is presented, using morphological characteristics. It confirms the polyphyletic status of the Ancorabolidae and its subfamily Ancorabolinae Sars and the paraphyletic status of the subfamily Laophontodinae Lang. Moreover, it clarifies the phylogenetic relationships of the so far assigned members of the family. An exhaustive phylogenetic analysis was undertaken using 150 morphological characters, resulting in the establishment of a now well-justified monophylum Ancorabolidae. In that context, the Ancorabolus-lineage sensu Conroy-Dalton and Huys is elevated to sub-family rank. Furthermore, the membership of Ancorabolina George in a rearranged monophylum Laophontodinae is confirmed. Conversely, the Ceratonotus-group sensu Conroy-Dalton is transferred from the hitherto Ancorabolinae to the Cletodidae. Within these, the Ceratonotus-group and its hypothesised sister-group Cletodes Brady are combined to form a monophyletic subfamily Cletodinae T. Scott, subfam. nov. Consequently, it was necessary to restructure the Ancorabolidae, Ancorabolinae and Laophontodinae and extend the Cletodidae to include the displacement and exclusion of certain taxa. Moreover, comparison of the Ancorabolidae, Cletodidae, Laophontoidea and other Podogennonta shows that the Ancorabolidae and Cletodidae form sister-groups in a monophylum Cletodoidea Bowman and Abele, which similarly has a sister-group-relationship with the Laophontoidea T. Scott. According to the present study, both taxa constitute a derived monophylum within the Podogennonta Lang.