Over 200 species of filarial parasites have been described, although the life cycle and nature of their obligate intermediate arthropod vectors have been identified for only about a quarter of them. Traditional methods of studying phylogenetic relationships between closely related parasite species have utilized morphologic, biochemical and biologic characteristics, usually of the microfilarial stage. Identification of competent vectors from among complexes of sibling species, has employed similar techniques, despite the fact that differences between geographical isolates may reflect environmental rather than genetically controlled factors. Studies of the prevalence and transmission of animal, human and zoonotic filarids, so important for vector identification and control, has lead to the examination of filarial parasites at the genetic level. Genomic DNA libraries are being constructed and screened for clones which are species specific. From this work, DNA probes which can accurately enumerate larval stages in vector squash preparations, and monoclonal antibodies specific for defined filarial antigens, are being prepared. The nucleotide sequences of rRNA are also being defined. The application of these technologies to the study of filarial parasites and their vectors, promises to not only allow the construction of accurate phylogenetic trees, but also to provide the data necessary for the identification and control of the vectors of filarial pathogens of animals and man.