The paraphyletic trilobite suborder Ptychopariina includes a large proportion of Cambrian trilobite diversity and is probably ancestral to most groups of post-Cambrian trilobites. Resolution of the phylogenetic relationships within the group is therefore crucial to a better understanding of the initial radiation of trilobites. The recognition of approaches that can successfully resolve the relationships of ptychoparioid taxa is an important first step towards this aim. Cladistic analysis was used to determine relationships within the Cambrian ptychoparioid trilobite family Conocoryphidae, and to test claims that the family is polyphyletic. Ninety-seven characters were coded for 40 conocoryphid species and nine non-conocoryphids. The results indicate that the family consists of four distantly related clades. Three are recognized here as distinct families, including an extensively revised Conocoryphidae, and the families Holocephalidae and Atopidae. The fourth clade is referred to the subfamily Acontheinae (Corynexochida) as the new Tribe Hartshillini. Analysis of the disparity of these four clades shows that they are significantly less morphologically variable than the original polyphyletic taxon, demonstrating the possible effects of taxonomic error on macroevolutionary studies of morphological disparity.