The leaf epidermal characters of 89 species belonging to 42 genera of the Celastraceae sensu lato (including Hippocrateaceae) are described in detail. The range and pattern of variation in stomatal type and presence and type of crystalliferous epidermal cells can be used to support the broad family concept of Celastraceae. The stomata may be anisocytic, complex anisocytic, anomocytic, cyclocytic, bi- and/or tricyclic, complex cyclocytic, laterocytic, complex laterocytic, paracytic, parallelocytic, helicocytic, or of an intermediate type. The laterocytic stomata are most common, and are here recognized for the first time as adistinct stomatal type characterized by the lateral position of the subsidiary cells (3 or more) but yet different from the paracytic and cyclocytic type. The general implications of the epidermal diversity for the grouping of genera in a natural classification are discussed. Special attention is devoted to the taxonomic position and/or delimitation of the following genera: Kokoona and Lophopetalum; Sarawakodendron; Perrottetia; Salacia and the related genera Cheiloclinium, Peritassa and Tontelea; Hippocratea and the putatively related genera Antodon, Apodostigma, Cuervea, Elachyptera, Helictonema, Hemiangium, Hylenea, Prionostemma, Loeseneriella, Pristimera, Reissantia and Simirestis; Cassine sensu lato (including Elaeodendron, Crocoxylon and Mystroxylon); Denhamia and Maytenus; Euonymus; Goupia; Siphonodon and Poltingeria. Finally a tentative discussion of the wider affinities of Celastraceae is given and the scope for future studies is indicated.