Nucleotide sequences of 18S ribosomal RNA from 71 species of Platyhelminthes, the flatworms, were analyzed using maximum likelihood, and the resulting phylogenetic trees were compared with previous phylogenetic hypotheses. Analyses including 15 outgroup species belonging to eight other phyla show that Platyhelminthes are monophyletic with the exception of a sequence putatively from Acoela sp., Lecithoepitheliata, Polycladida, Tricladida, Trematoda (Aspidobothrii + Digenea), Monogenea, and Cestoda (Gyrocotylidea + Amphilinidea + Eucestoda) are monophyletic groups. Catenulids form the sister group to the rest of platyhelminths, whereas a complex clade formed by Acoela, Tricladida,
Dalyellioida,'' and perhaps Typhloplanoida’’ is sister to Neodermata.
Typhloplanoida'' does not appear to be monophyletic; Fecampiida does not appear to belong within Dalyellioida,’’ nor Kalyptorhynchia within
Typhloplanoida.'' Trematoda is the sister group to the rest of Neodermata, and Monogenea is sister group to Cestoda. Within Trematoda, Aspidobothrii is the sister group of Digenea and Heronimidae is the most basal family in Digenea. Our trees support the hypothesis that parasitism evolved at least twice in Platyhelminthes, once in the ancestor to Neodermata and again in the ancestor of Fecampiida, independently to the ancestor of putatively parasitic Dalyellioida.’’