Wild great apes often suffer from diseases of unknown aetiology. This is among the causes of population declines. Because human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) is an important pathogen, especially in immunocompromised individuals, a search for cytomegaloviruses (CMVs) in deceased wild and captive chimpanzees, gorillas and orang-utans was performed. By using a degenerate PCR targeting four conserved genes (UL54-UL57), several distinct, previously unrecognized CMVs were found for each species. Sequences of up to 9 kb were determined for ten novel CMVs, located in the UL54-UL57 block. A phylogenetic tree was inferred for the ten novel CMVs, the previously characterized chimpanzee CMV, HCMV strains and Old World and New World monkey CMVs. The primate CMVs fell into four clades, containing New World monkey, Old World monkey, orang-utan and human CMVs, respectively, plus two clades that each contained both chimpanzee and gorilla isolates (termed CG1 and CG2). The tree loci of the first four clades mirrored those for their respective hosts in the primate tree, suggesting that these CMV lineages arose through cospeciation with host lineages. The CG1 and CG2 loci corresponded to those of the gorilla and chimpanzee hosts, respectively. This was interpreted as indicating that CG1 and CG2 represented CMV lineages that had arisen cospeciationally with the gorilla and chimpanzee lineages, respectively, with subsequent transfer within each clade between the host genera. Divergence dates were estimated and found to be consistent with overall cospeciational development of major primate CMV lineages. However, CMV transmission between chimpanzees and gorillas in both directions has also occurred.