The tracheal systems of 142 chironomid larvae (42 species) were examined. These tracheal patterns showed considerable variation, both between subfamilies, and within a particular subfamily. The dorsal trunks, lateral trunks, dorsal anastomoses, and subcuticular tracheation were the major tracheal components examined in this study. Orthocladiinae, Diamesinae and Tanypodinae larvae exhibit the most extensive tracheal systems differing mainly in the placement of anastomoses. In some Podonominae species the tracheal system extends only to abdominal segment 8, where the trunks merge to form an open spiracle. Other podonomines, though not examined, are apneustic. The Chironominae tracheal system appears to extend the entire length of the larva, but only certain portions of it are filled with air. In Tanytarisini air is present in the thoracic tracheae and the terminal abdominal tracheae. In some Chironomini, air is present only in the thoracic tracheae, while other members of this tribe exhibit the 'Tanytarsini' pattern. The phylogeny of the Chironomidae, and the effects of environmental factors on the tracheal system are discussed.