Nematodes are known to be a useful system for studies of comparative development. Here we perform a molecular phylogenetic analysis to allow for the independent interpretation of the developmental and morphological changes observed among a selected set of nematode species. Our molecular phylogenetic analysis is based on coding regions of the genes for RNA polymerase II, the small subunit rRNA and an expansion segment of the large subunit rRNA. Sequences were compared from five species in the family (Rhabditidae) that includes the developmental model organism Caenorhabditis elegans and from an outgroup taxon Aduncospiculum halicti (Diplogasterina). The phylogenetic analysis does not support the monophyly of the subfamily Mesorhabditinae and identifies the unnamed strain PS1010 as a sister taxon of C. elegans despite its morphologically divergent buccal capsule. On the basis of the inferred framework, we can begin to interpret the evolution of vulval development and of morphological differences among these nematode species.