Molecular studies were carried out on Chondrophycus gemmiferus and C. poiteaui (Rhodomelaceae) from the Mexican Caribbean Sea. These species are morphologically related, but differ mainly in the presence of the apiculate projection of epidermal cells near the apices of branches. Both species belong to Chondrophycus, as indicated by the presence of two periaxial cells per axial segment and a 90° arrangement of tetrasporangia, but share characteristics with Laurencia species (e.g., presence of secondary pit connections between adjacent epidermal cells). The phylogenetic position of these species was inferred by an analysis of chloroplast-encoded rbc L gene sequences of 21 taxa, using two members of the Rhodomelaceae and two of the Ceramiaceae as outgroups. The results corroborate the taxonomy of the Laurencia complex, which comprises the genera Laurencia, Chondrophycus and Osmundea , and indicate that rbc L provides an adequate phylogenetic signal to study the intergeneric and interspecific relationships within the complex. In spite of this, relationships within the clade formed by C. gemmiferus and C. poiteaui were not resolved by any analysis because of the low level of genetic variation between their rbc L sequences (0.01–0.02%). On the basis of both molecular data and morphological similarities, we concluded that C. gemmiferus should be considered as a variety of C. poiteaui and the following new combination is proposed: Chondrophycus poiteaui var. gemmiferus (Harvey) comb . et stat. nov.