Danioninae, distributing widely throughout Southeast Asia, is a group of primitive minnows. Among danionine fishes in which the circumorbitals is well developed, the connection between the supraorbital and the fifth infraorbital is usually treated as a main character to identify them from other cyprinids. Of all danionine fishes, there are 14 genera containing 28 species in China. To contribute to a comprehensive knowledge of the study status in danioninae, the summary of taxonomic history and new advances in studies was of great necessity and was made at first. In addition, the osteological system of Opsariichthys bidens was described in detail. The cladistic methodology was employed in the phylogenetic analysis of danionine fishes. 9 representative genera from 1 cobitid subfamily and 6 cyprinid subfamilies were chosen as out-group to determine the evolutionary polarity of the characters and to discuss the correlation between danionine fishes and other cyprinids. Based on the observation of 27 specimens, selected to be cleared and stained from 24 species, a total of 68 variable osteological and external anatomical characters was described and compared. The cladgram was produced by using the computer-based program PAUP (Phylogenetic Analysis Using Parsimony). The findings resulted from the phylogenetic analysis support the following hypotheses: 1. It is not necessarily the case in danioninae that the circumorbitals is well developed and the fifth infraorbital makes contact with the supraorbital. An overall study on circumorbitals of extant cyprinids is helpful to find the trend, showing the variation of circumorbitals from primitive cyprinid groups to more specialized ones, that all the large lamellar infraorbitals, apart from lachrymal, become reduced to some extent, even to slender ossifications around the sensory canal tube and that three is no contact between the fifth infraorbital and the supraorbital. This trend may be used to hypothesize the possible evolutionary polarity of circumorbitals during the evolution of cyprinid major groups. 2. It is in the majority of danionine fishes that the anterior trigemino-facial foramen is within prootic. This is a plesiomorphy in cyprinidae, and it is of little significance to define the monophyly of danioninae. 3. The subfamily Danioninae is not a monophyletic group, and the result of phylogenetic analysis indicate that in which several groups, such as Opsariichthys group, Rasbora group, Aphyocypr is group etc., seem to form monophyly respectively. But the phylogenetic relationship of these groups is not steadily to be understood and they apparently do not have direct relationships each other. 4. The classification of Aspidoparia in danioninae has been based upon the close similarity in morphology of circumorbitals which is a plesiomorphic character. In fact none of the apomorphies identified here show Aspidoparia and the other danionine fishes to be related closely. On the contrary, some synapomorphies maybe serve to identify Aspidoparia and Xenocyprinae fishes as sister taxa. 5. In the same way, no apomorphies can be identified here to relate Gobiocypr is and Tanichthys with the other danionine fishes. Furthermore, it seem that Gobiocypris and Tanichthys, for several apomophies identified in these two genera not occuring in the other danionine fishes, are more specialized than danioninae.