Phylogenetic hypotheses for the peracarid order Cumacea are scarce and have not provided a solution to the full extent. In the present study, a fragment of the mitochondrial 16S rDNA was used to erect a phylogenetic hypothesis for three cumacean families, Diastylidae, Bodotriidae and Leuconidae, along with intra-family relationships of the latter. The Cumacea resolved monophyletic with tanaids and isopods as outgroup taxa. The Diastylidae were the only family with good support for monophyly. The genus Leucon resolved paraphyletic, whereas the subgenus Crymoleucon was monophyletic. Furthermore, the genetic structure was analysed for two leuconid species, Leucon antarcticus Zimmer, 1907 and L. intermedius Mühlenhardt-Siegel, 1996, from the Weddell Sea and the Ross Sea. The two species showed different patterns of intraspecific genetic variability. In contrast to L. intermedius, a bimodal distribution of pairwise genetic distances was observed for L. antarcticus, which is correlated with geographical and depth distributions between the Ross Sea and the Weddell Sea. Although a clear evaluation of cryptic speciation in these species requires additional work on more specimens from more geographic regions and broader depth ranges, differences shown in the sequences of 16S rDNA can only be explained by genetic separation of populations between the Weddell Sea and the Ross Sea for an extended period of time.