Comparative wood anatomy of Taxaceae s.l. was examined to elucidate the differences in wood features among genera. In total, 25 samples, comprising three varieties and seven species from five genera (Pseudotaxus was not included), were examined. Sliding microtome, wood maceration and scanning electron microscopy methods were used for the study. The growth rings are well developed and early and late wood are distinguishable in a cross-section. In general, there is remarkable uniformity in the characteristics of the five genera of Taxaceae, although some differences in quantitative traits were found. Wood of Taxaceae s.l. differs from that of most conifers by having helical thickening in the tracheid inner walls, with the exception of Austrotaxus spicata R.H.Compton. All genera are characterised by the absence of resin canals, predominantly uniseriate pits on the radial wall of the axial tracheids, and the presence of pits on the tangential walls of the axial tracheids. The rays are composed solely of parenchyma cells and are uniseriate (occasionally biseriate in Torreya nucifera (L.) Siebold et Zucc.), with a height of 1–22 cells. The genus Taxus shares more characteristics with Torreya than with Amentotaxus, Austrotaxus and Cephalotaxus. Correspondingly, Amentotaxus and Cephalotaxus resemble each other, marked by the presence of either diffuse or sparse axial parenchyma with nodulated transverse walls. Austrotaxus spicata is the sole species that lacks helical thickenings in the tracheid walls and has sparse axial parenchyma with smooth transverse walls. These two features, namely, the absence of helical thickenings and axial parenchyma with smooth transverse walls, are plesiomorphic and might be considered a more primitive character in wood anatomy. Among the other four genera, Amentotaxus appears to have an annular type of wall thickening that could be considered plesiomorphic to the spiral thickenings found in Taxus, Torreya and Cephalotaxus.