The systematics of parts of the Odontopleuridae are revised using character analyses tracing homologous structures, and a computerised cladistic analysis. The choice of outgroup is shown to affect the result of the analysis. Several synapomorphies place Selenopeltis, the type genus of the Selenopeltinae Hawle & Corda, 1847 as sister genus to Dicranurus. The latter's close relationship to Miraspis, type genus of the Miraspidinae Richter & Richter, 1917 is confirmed. The Selenopeltinae therefore becomes a senior subjective synonym of the Miraspidinae. The Selenopeltinae includes about 90 of the over 380 named odontopleurid species known to date (excluding accepted synonyms). The Ceratocephalinae is recognised, including about 30 species. The paired, large pygidial border spines present in most odontopleurids are in some species not homologous, and a falsifiable hypothesis is proposed for the homology of the ‘true major border spines’. This structure is the posterior pleural spine of the tenth postcephalic segment in selenopeltines, ceratocephalines and odontopleurines, and in acidaspidines and apianurines it is the serially homologous spine of the eleventh postcephalic segment. The spine belongs to the first pygidial segment in all taxa except ceratocephalines, where it is on the last thoracic segment. The homology in selenopeltines of the progressive restructuring of the cheek border is reviewed, explaining the supramarginal appearance of the genal spine. The presence and homology of the sublobation of L1 in odontopleurids is discussed, and it may be homologous with the sublobation in lichids. The strongly differentiated thoracic segmental lengths (exsag.), with maximum length reached in the anterior part of thorax, and the much reduced length of the posterior segments, are aspects of a single character-complex, uniquely derived within the Selenopeltinae. The ontogenetic origin of the anterior and posterior pleural spines is reviewed. The presence in Ceratocephala of two instars in one meraspid degree is discussed. A cladistic analysis of selenopeltine and ceratocephaline genera does not entirely resolve the topology of the phylogenetic tree of these taxa, but it confirms Selenopeltis as sister taxon to Dicranurus. These two genera belong in a clade also including Miraspis, Selenopeltoides, and Ceratonurus. Two new genera are erected, Ceratocara and Archaeopleura, the latter with type species A. kazakhensis sp. nov.