Premise of the study: Large genera provide remarkable opportunities to investigate patterns of morphological evolution and historical biogeography in plants. A molecular phylogeny of the species-rich and morphologically and ecologically diverse genus Mimosa was generated to evaluate its infrageneric classification, reconstruct the evolution of a set of morphological characters, and establish the relationships of Old World species to the rest of the genus. • Methods: We used trnD-trnT plastid sequences for 259 species of Mimosa (ca. 50% of the total) to reconstruct the phylogeny of the genus. Six morphological characters (petiolar nectary, inflorescence type, number of stamens, number of petals, pollen type, and seismonasty) were optimized onto the molecular tree. • Key results: Mimosa was recovered as a monophyletic clade nested within the Piptadenia group and includes the former members of Schrankia, corroborating transfer of that genus to Mimosa. Although we found good support for several infrageneric groups, only one section (Mimadenia) was recovered as monophyletic. All but one of the morphological characters analyzed showed high levels of homoplasy. High levels of geographic structure were found, with species from the same area tending to group together in the phylogeny. Old World species of Mimosa form a monophyletic clade deeply nested within New World groups, indicating recent (6-10 Ma) long-distance dispersal. • Conclusions: Although based on a single plastid region, our results establish a preliminary phylogenetic framework for Mimosa that can be used to infer patterns of morphological evolution and relationships and which provides pointers toward a revised infrageneric classification.