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At least 26 members of the Simulium damnosum Theobald complex (Diptera: Simuliidae) are known from eastern Africa, most of which are assumed to be non-anthropophilic and some are restricted to small areas of endemicity. Their discovery was based on polytene chromosome inversion polymorphisms and since then they have been cited as cytological entities, but, in many cases, with inadequate descriptions (e.g. without illustrations of the chromosomes). The present distribution, taxonomy and vector identity have been re-evaluated during the last decade in conjunction with ongoing onchocerciasis control programmes. Here, a summary of the relevant data is presented, integrating results of cytotaxonomic, morphotaxonomic and molecular investigations into a guide that provides a comprehensive system of identification for the cytoforms ‘Kagera’, ‘Kasyabone’, ‘Kibwezi’, ‘Kisiwani’, ‘Kisiwani E’, ‘Kulfo’, ‘Linthipe’, ‘Mombo’, ‘Mutonga’, ‘Njombe’, ‘Nkusi’, ‘Nkusi SA’, ‘Nkusi SW’, ‘Nyika’, ‘Pienaars’, ‘Sanje’, ‘Sebwe’, ‘Turiani’, Simulium damnosum sensu stricto, Simulium kaffaense Hadis et al., Simulium kilibanum Gouteux, Simulium kipengere Krueger, Simulium latipollex (Enderlein), Simulium pandanophilum Krüger, Nurmi & Garms, Simulium plumbeum Krueger, Simulium thyolense Vajime et al. and for five newly recognized molecular forms of ‘Nkusi’ and S. kilibanum. All taxa except S. pandanophilum are assigned to one of five subcomplexes (damnosum, Ketaketa, Kibwezi, Sanje, squamosum) within the S. damnosum complex. The guide encompasses anthropophilic and non-anthropophilic segregates for the whole of eastern and southern Africa, and is not restricted to larval chromosome criteria; in many cases it also allows the typing of adult flies.