Tapeworms of the order Spathebothriidea Wardle et McLeod, 1952 (Cestoda) are reviewed. Molecular data made it possible to assess, for the first time, the phylogenetic relationships of all genera and to confirm the validity of Bothrimonus Duvernoy, 1842, Diplocotyle Krabbe, 1874 and Didymobothrium Nybelin, 1922. A survey of all species considered to be valid is provided together with new data on egg and scolex morphology and surface ultrastructure (i.e. microtriches). The peculiar morphology of the members of this group, which is today represented by five effectively monotypic genera whose host associations and geographical distribution show little commonality, indicate that it is a relictual group that was once diverse and widespread. The order potentially represents the earliest branch of true tapeworms (i.e. Eucestoda) among extant forms.