Acanthiophilus Becker (Diptera: Tephritidae) is a fruit fly genus currently with 10 species, all of which restricted to flowerheads of plants in the family Asteraceae. Most species in the genus are limited to the Afrotropical Region, but Acanthiophilus helianthi (Rossi) is also widespread in the Palearctic Region, where it is considered to be a major pest of safflower. No information on the life history of any of the species other than A. helianthi has been available so far, and the phylogeny and geographic origin of the genus have never been investigated. In this work, we revised Acanthiophilus based on a thorough morphological and cladistic study of the 10 described and three undescribed species and provide a key and illustrations for all of them.We describe Acanthiophilus minor, n. sp., Acanthiophilus summissus, n. sp., and Acanthiophilus unicus, n. sp., and reassign Acanthiophilus astrophorus Hering, Acanthiophilus coarctatus Hering, Acanthiophilus kohleri Hering, Acanthiophilus melanoxanthus Hering, and Acanthiophilus trypaneodes Hering to other genera. The immature stages of Acanthiophilus brunneus Munro are described and illustrated for the first time, and new host plants are recorded for A. brunneus, A. ciconia Munro, A. helianthi, Acanthiophilus lugubris Hering, and A. minor n. sp. Our cladistic analysis supports the taxonomic conclusions and actions, as well as the monophyly of Acanthiophilus as defined here. A dispersal-vicariance analysis suggests that the genus originated in Africa and dispersed from it to other parts of the world following climate changes and the dispersal of its host plants.