At the joint meeting of the 8th International Coccidiosis Conference and the Annual Scientific Meeting of the Australian Society for Parasitology in Palm Cove, Australia, in July 2001, a Controversial Roundtable was held on 'New classification of coccidia'. The aim of this Roundtable was to stimulate and encourage discussion and debate on current classification schemes for the group of parasitic protozoa known as the eimeriid coccidia. In the past, such classifications have been based only on phenotypic characters such as morphology, ultrastructure, life cycles, and host specificity. However, over the past 10-15 years, molecular phylogenetic studies on taxa of the eimeriid coccidia have revealed that several of the families, subfamilies, and genera that have been erected based on non-molecular characters are paraphyletic. Therefore, this Roundtable was an important forum for initial discussions on how a new and more comprehensive classification of the eimeriid coccidia, which takes into consideration both phenotypic and molecular characters, can be devised. The stimulus came from invited speakers who gave introductions into selected areas of taxonomy and classification. Following these introductions, a more general discussion with the audience addressed potential steps that may be taken in future work. This review is the immediate outcome of the Roundtable. It describes advantages and disadvantages of the use of phenotypic or molecular characters as the base for taxonomic schemes for eimeriid coccidia. It gives specific examples for drawbacks of current classifications based only on phenotypic characters as well as potential pitfalls associated with the use of only molecular phylogenies. It addresses current controversies as well as rules of taxonomy and nomenclature relevant for the eimeriid coccidia. Finally, it recommends the establishment of an international group of scientists to meet on a regular basis, stimulate further discussions, and give direction on how the final goal, i.e. a proposal for a revised, and widely accepted, classification of the eimeriid coccidia, may be achieved.