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The karyotypes of 28 specimens belonging to 26 species of Cercopithecinae have been compared with each other and with human karyotype by chromosome banding and, for some of them, by Zoo-FISH (human painting probes) techniques. The study includes the first description of the karyotypes of four species and a synonym of Cercopithecus nictitans. The chromosomal homologies obtained provide us with new data on a large number of rearrangements. This allows us to code chromosomal characters to draw Cercopithecini phylogenetic trees, which are compared to phylogenetic data based on DNA sequences. Our findings show that some of the superspecies proposed by Kingdon (1997 The Kingdon Field Guide to African Mammals, Academic Press.) and Groves (2001 Primates Taxonomy, Smithsonian Institution Press) do not form homogeneous groups and that the genus Cercopithecus is paraphyletic, in agreement with previous molecular analyses. The evolution of Cercopithecini karyotypes is mainly due to non-centromeric chromosome fissions and centromeric shifts or inversions. Non-Robertsonian translocations occurred in C. hamlyni and C. neglectus. The position of chromosomal rearrangements in the phylogenetic tree leads us to propose that the Cercopithecini evolution proceeded by either repeated fission events facilitated by peculiar genomic structures or successive reticulate phases, in which heterozygous populations for few rearranged chromosomes were present, allowing the spreading of chromosomal forms in various combinations, before the speciation process.