Systematics derived from morphological characters often does not correspond with the evolutionary processes underlying the divergence within a group of organisms. In the family Mugilidae (Teleostei) morphological similarities have resulted in inconsistencies between taxonomy and phylogeny among its species, and particularly for the genera Mugil, Liza and Chelon where both intrageneric and intergeneric phylogenetic clarifications are needed. To address these issues, the direct sequencing of the mitochondrial region that encodes Phenylalanine (69 bp), 12S rRNA (842 bp), cytochrome c oxidase subunit I (651 bp) and cytochrome b (702 bp) was carried out. The data reveal that Mugil platanus and Mugil liza represent a continuum of a single species, closely related to but distinct from Mugil cephalus which itself appears to comprise a grouping of multiple and closely related species. This species complex was genetically distinct from Mugil curema, which, based on three clearly diverged species identified in this study along the Atlantic coast of the Americas, requires extensive taxonomic revision throughout its world-wide distribution. Unlike the monophyly supported within Mugil, relationships within Liza are paraphyletic, and a taxonomic revision of the genera Liza, Chelon and Oedalechilus is needed.