To understand the evolutionary history of Lymantriinae and test the present higher-level classification, we performed the first broad-scale molecular phylogenetic analysis of the subfamily, based on 154 exemplars representing all recognized tribes and drawn from all major biogeographical regions. We used two mitochondrial genes (cytochrome c oxidase subunit I and 16S ribosomal RNA) and six nuclear genes (elongation factor-1α, carbamoylphosphate synthase domain protein, ribosomal protein S5, cytosolic malate dehydrogenase, glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase and wingless). Data matrices (in total 5424 bp) were analysed by parsimony and model-based evolutionary methods (maximum likelihood and Bayesian inference). Based on the results of the analyses, we present a new phylogenetic classification for Lymantriinae composed of seven well-supported tribes, two of which are proposed here as new: Arctornithini, Leucomini, Lymantriini, Orgyiini, Nygmiini, Daplasini trib. nov. and Locharnini trib. nov. We discuss the internal structure of each of these tribes and address some of the more complex problems with the genus-level classification, particularly within Orgyiini and Nygmiini.