The porgies (Sparidae) comprise a diverse group of neritic fishes with a broad geographic distribution. We used mitochondrial DNA sequences from partial 16S ribosomal RNA and cytochrome b genes to reconstruct the phylogenetic history of these fishes. Sequences from 38 sparid species, 10 species in outgroups closely related to sparids, seven basal percoid species, and a non-perciform outgroup species were analyzed with parsimony and maximum likelihood. The Sparidae were monophyletic with the inclusion of Spicara, which is currently placed in the Centracanthidae. The genera Spicara, Pagrus, and Pagellus, were not monophyletic indicating a need for revision. Two main sparid lineages were recovered in all analyses, but the previously proposed six sparid subfamilies (Boopsinae, Denticinae, Diplodinae, Pagellinae, Pagrinae, and Sparinae) were not monophyletic. This suggests that dentition and feeding modes, upon which these subfamilies are based, were independently derived multiple times within sparid fishes. There was no evidence from the 16S or combined analyses for a monophyletic Sparoidea.