Although much progress has been made recently in teleostean phylogeny, relationships among the main lineages of the higher teleosts (Acanthomorpha), containing more than 60% of all fish species, remain poorly defined. This study represents the most extensive taxonomic sampling effort to date to collect new molecular characters for phylogenetic analysis of acanthomorph fishes. We compiled and analyzed three independent data sets, including: (i) mitochondrial ribosomal fragments from 12S and 16s (814bp for 97 taxa); (ii) nuclear ribosomal 28S sequences (847bp for 74 taxa); and (iii) a nuclear protein-coding gene, rhodopsin (759bp for 86 taxa). Detailed analyses were conducted on each data set separately and the principle of taxonomic congruence without consensus trees was used to assess confidence in the results as follows. Repeatability of clades from separate analyses was considered the primary criterion to establish reliability, rather than bootstrap proportions from a single combined (total evidence) data matrix. The new and reliable clades emerging from this study of the acanthomorph radiation were: Gadiformes (cods) with Zeioids (dories); Beloniformes (needlefishes) with Atheriniformes (silversides); blenioids (blennies) with Gobiesocoidei (clingfishes); Channoidei (snakeheads) with Anabantoidei (climbing gouramies); Mastacembeloidei (spiny eels) with Synbranchioidei (swamp-eels); the last two pairs of taxa grouping together, Syngnathoidei (aulostomids, macroramphosids) with Dactylopteridae (flying gurnards); Scombroidei (mackerels) plus Stromatoidei plus Chiasmodontidae; Ammodytidae (sand lances) with Cheimarrhichthyidae (torrentfish); Zoarcoidei (eelpouts) with Cottoidei; Percidae (perches) with Notothenioidei (Antarctic fishes); and a clade grouping Carangidae (jacks), Echeneidae (remoras), Sphyraenidae (barracudas), Menidae (moonfish), Polynemidae (threadfins), Centropomidae (snooks), and Pleuronectiformes (flatfishes).