Chaetoceros is one of the most species rich, widespread and abundant diatom genera in marine and brackish habitats worldwide. It therefore forms an excellent model for in-depth biodiversity studies, assessing morphological and genetic differentiation among groups of strains. The global Chaetoceros lorenzianus complex presently comprises three species known to science. However, our recent studies have shown that the group includes several previously unknown species. In this article, 50 strains, mainly from high latitudes and from warm-temperate waters, were examined morphologically and genetically and the results compared with those of field studies from elsewhere. The strains clustered into five groups, two of which are formed by C. decipiens Cleve and C. mitra (Bailey) Cleve, respectively. Their species descriptions are emended based on samples collected close to the type localities. The three other groups are formed by new species, C. elegans sp. nov., C. laevisporus sp. nov. and C. mannaii sp. nov. Characters used to distinguish each species are: orientation of setae, shape and size of the apertures, shape, size and density of the poroids on the setae and, at least in some species, characters of the resting spores. Our aim is to cover the global species diversity in this complex, as correct species delineation is the basis for exploring biodiversity, distribution of organisms, interactions in the food web and effects of environmental changes.