To come to a better understanding of the evolution and function of the SBP-box transcription factor family in plants, we identified, isolated and characterized 13 of its members from the moss Physcomitrella patens. For the majority of the moss SBP-box genes, clear orthologous relationships with family members of flowering plants could be established by phylogenetic analysis based on the conserved DNA-binding SBP-domain, as well as additional synapomorphic molecular characters. The P. patens SBP-box genes cluster in four separable groups. One of these consists exclusively of moss genes; the three others are shared with family members of Arabidopsis and rice. Besides the family defining DNA-binding SBP-domain, other features can be found conserved between moss and other plant SBP-domain proteins. An AHA-like motif conserved from the unicellular alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii to flowering plants, was found able to promote transcription in a heterologous yeast system. The conservation of a functional microRNA response element in the mRNA of three of the moss SBP-box genes supports the idea of an ancient origin of microRNA dependent regulation of SBP-box gene family members. As our current knowledge concerning the roles of SBP-box genes in plant development is scarce and the model system P. patens allows targeted mutation, the material we isolated and characterized will be helpful to generate the mutant phenotypes necessary to further elucidate these roles.