A combined parsimony analysis of the species of Phaseolus and closely related New World genera was performed with sequences from the nuclear ribosomal ITS/5.8 S and plastid trnK loci. Species relationships are resolved with high parsimony bootstrap support at all hierarchical levels. All species of Phaseolus, except five enigmatic ones, belong to one of eight clades. These eight clades show some morphological, ecological, or biogeographical distinction, and are informally recognized in a phylogenetic classification. The five enigmatic species, Phaseolus glabellus, P. macrolepis, P. microcarpus, P. oaxacanus, and P. talamancensis are weakly resolved as the sister clade to the Tuerckheimii group. An evolutionary rates analysis that biases for old age estimates suggests that the Phaseolus stem clade is the same age as the New World Phaseolinae crown clade with a maximum age of ca. 8 Ma. The Phaseolus crown is estimated to be no older than ca. 6 Ma, and the average age of the eight well supported crown clades within Phaseolus is ca. 2 Ma. The maximum age estimate of a Late Pliocene to Pleistocene diversification of Phaseolus post-dates the major tectonic activity in Mexico where Phaseolus diversity is centered.