The life cycle of a new haploporid digenean, Hapladena gymnocephali sp. nov., infecting the bald glassy perchlet Ambassis gymnocephalus from the Chaliyar and Kadalundi rivers of Kozhikode district, Kerala, India, is elucidated. The new species is described in detail, its systematic position discussed and compared with related species, H. acanthuri Siddiqi & Cable, 1960 and H. spinosa Manter & Pritchard, 1961. Hapladena gymnocephali is distinctly different from the two latter species in the shape and size of body, nature of testis, extent of vitelline field and excretory bladder. Hapladena gymnocephali has a typical haploporid, two-host life cycle: the gymnocephalous, bi-ocellate, distome cercariae released by the snail Gabbia travancorica are ingested by the fish and develop directly into adults without undergoing a metacercarial stage of development. This is the first report of the genus Hapladena from India, and also the first report of the life cycle of the genus.