Phylogenetic analysis and metabolic profiling were used to investigate the diversity of plant material within the ginger species and between ginger and closely related species in the genus Zingiber (Zingiberaceae). In addition, anti-inflammatory data were obtained for the investigated species. Phylogenetic analysis demonstrated that all Zingiber officinale samples from different geographical origins were genetically indistinguishable. In contrast, other Zingiber species were significantly divergent, allowing all species to be clearly distinguished using this analysis. In the metabolic profiling analysis, the Z. officinale samples derived from different origins showed no qualitative differences in major volatile compounds, although they did show some significant quantitative differences in non-volatile composition, particularly regarding the content of -, -, and -gingerols, the most active anti-inflammatory components in this species. The differences in gingerol content were verified by HPLC. The metabolic profiles of other Zingiber species were very different, both qualitatively and quantitatively, when compared to Z. officinale and to each other. Comparative DNA sequence/chemotaxonomic phylogenetic trees showed that the chemical characters of the investigated species were able to generate essentially the same phylogenetic relationships as the DNA sequences. This supports the contention that chemical characters can be used effectively to identify relationships between plant species. Anti-inflammatory in vitro assays to evaluate the ability of all extracts from the Zingiber species examined to inhibit LPS-induced PGE(2) and TNF-alpha production suggested that bioactivity may not be easily predicted by either phylogenetic analysis or gross metabolic profiling. Therefore, identification and quantification of the actual bioactive compounds are required to guarantee the bioactivity of a particular Zingiber sample even after performing authentication by molecular and/or chemical markers.