Ticks are parasitiform mites that are obligate hematophagous ectoparasites of amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals. A phylogeny for tick families, subfamilies, and genera has been described based on morphological characters, life histories, and host associations. To test the existing phylogeny, we sequenced approximately 460 bp from the 3' end of the mitochondrial 16S rRNA gene (rDNA) in 36 hard- and soft-tick species; a mesostigmatid mite, Dermanyssus gallinae, was used as an outgroup. Phylogenies derived using distance, maximum-parsimony, or maximum-likelihood methods were congruent. The existing phylogeny was largely supported with four exceptions. In hard ticks (Ixodidae), members of Haemaphysalinae were monophyletic with the primitive Amblyomminae and members of Hyalomminae grouped within the Rhipicephalinae. In soft ticks (Argasidae), the derived phylogeny failed to support a monophyletic relationship among members of Ornithodorinae and supported placement of Argasinae as basal to the Ixodidae, suggesting that hard ticks may have originated from an Argas-like ancestor. Because most Argas species are obligate bird octoparasites, this result supports earlier suggestions that hard ticks did not evolve until the late Cretaceous.