Abstract The family Culicidae (all true mosquitoes) is the most important medical insect group and thought to be the deadliest animal killer. Accurate classification and identification of mosquitoes are the basis of the basic research and control of vector mosquitoes. Modern taxonomy of mosquitoes originated from the species description of thegenus Culex by Carl Linnaeus in 1758, and since then the taxonomic system of the Culicidae has basically formed with named species gradually increasing. In this article we reviewed the taxonomic research history of the Culicidae in the world, and the taxonomic system, species and biology at the genus level and above with some preliminary discussions and perspectives, on the basis of compiling worldwide species name list and geographical distribution records. Up to date, there are 41 mosquito genera, 201 subgenera and 3 573 species known in the world, among which 20 genera, 63 subgenera and 419 species recorded in China. The subfamily Anophelinae is believed to be a monophylum, and contains three genera (Anopheles, Bironella and Chagasia), 11 subgenera and 489 species. There are 476 known species in the genus Anopheles, accounting for 97% of the total species in Anophelinae, which contains all malaria vectors. The subfamily Culicinae is believed to be polyphyletic with a total of 11 known tribes, 38 genera, 190 subgenera and 3 048 species, and its phylogeny is still not settled. The tribes Aedini, Culicini, Sabethini and Uranotaeniini have 1 262, 800, 432 and 270 known species, respectively, ranking as the four largest tribes in Culicinae. Many species especially in the genera Culex, Aedes and Mansonia are serious vectors of infectious diseases. Among all these mosquito species, the highest species number (1 075 species) is recorded for the Oriental Region, followed in species number by Neotropical Region (951 species), Ethiopian Region (798), Australian Region (542 species) and Palaearctic Region (251), and Nearctic Region has the least number of species (196). However, a large number of species exist across different regions. The information will provide a basis for the understanding of the taxonomy and distribution of Culicidae. Due to the wide existence of cryptic species, the actual number of species should be 3-5 times as high as the established species number. The systematics of Culicidae is of important theoretical and application value for the accurate identification of mosquito species, the research of basic biology and mosquito-borne disease transmission mechanism, and the control of vector mosquitoes and mosquito-borne diseases. The taxonomy, phylogeny and fauna of mosquitoes are still urgent and important research subjects.