The present study considers phylogenetic relationships of some southern, eastern and western African Characidae, Distichodontidae and Hepsetidae species, for which only limited genetic data with respect to their classification and phylogeny are currently available. Thirteen species representing three families and six genera were studied. Allozyme data indicated a basal position of the genus Hydrocynus within the Characidae, but failed to support the monophyly of the genus Brycinus. Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) sequence data of the cytochrome-b gene also showed weak support for the grouping of the latter genus. However, clear support was found for the monophyletic origin of the other genera studied and for the validity of all three characiform families present in Africa.