Based on apomorphic characters of the male and female genitalia, evidence is provided for the monophyly of genus Phytomyptera Rondani (incl. Elfia Robineau-Desvoidy) and its placement in the monophyletic tribe Graphogastrini Townsend (= Elfiini Tschorsnig). A complete, annotated list of generic names regarded synonymous with Phytomyptera is given. The systematic position of Graphogastrini is discussed, with a key to the included genera. The 15 Palaearctic species of Phytomyptera are treated in a key, while a detailed survey is given of the 12 species presently known from Europe. The different species are mainly characterized by previously ignored, strongly diagnostic features of the male and female genitalia. Host relationships and other biological aspects are summarized, and the taxonomic importance of various characters of the adults and immatures is evaluated. Special emphasis is given to the structure of the aedeagus which primitively is a very complex organ with three outlets (gonopores) formed by the endophallus, here defined as a more or less sclerotized distal section of the sperm duct. This typically forms a capsule with three tubular exit branches. Based on a phylogenetic character analysis, the Palaearctic species are referred to five species-groups used in the construction of a cladogram. Three nominal species in Phytomyptera. minutissima (Zetterstedt), riedeli (Villeneuve) and vaccinii Sintenis, are removed from synonymy (spp. rev.). P. vivipara (Brauer & Bergenstamm) = P. minutissima (Zetterstedt) (syn. rev.), and P. gracilariae (Hering) = P. vaccinii Sintenis (syn. n.). Two Patagonian species are removed from Phytomyptera: vibrissata Aldrich to the closely related genus Planomyia Aldrich (comb. n.), and interrupta Aldrich which seems referable to tribe Leskiini.