A global database containing 3365 occurrences, 821 species and 251 genera of the Capitanian (Late Guadalupian, Permian) brachiopod faunas from 24 stations has been analyzed by cluster analysis using the Jaccard and Otsuka coefficients and the probabilistic index of similarity, nonmetric multidimensional scaling and minimum spanning tree. Two supergroups, three groups and six subgroups are revealed and interpreted as representing, respectively, two biotic realms (the Palaeoequatorial and Gondwanan Realms), two regions and six provinces. An additional realm (the Boreal Realm), based on the fauna from Spitsbergen, also appears recognizable although it also shows considerable similarities with southwestern North America and the northern margin of Gondwana as revealed by the statistical analysis. The Palaeoequatorial Realm can be further subdivided into the North America Region and the Asian Tethyan Region. The six biotic provinces are the Cathaysian Province in the Palaeotethys and Mesotethys, the Greenland-Svalbard Province in the Arctic region, the Austrazean Province in eastern Australia and New Zealand, the Grandian Province in western North America and the two transitional zones (the Himalayan Province in the southern temperate zone and the Sino-Mongolian-Japanese Province in the northern temperate zone). Polynomial regression analysis and rarefaction analysis indicate that the generic diversities of brachiopod faunas during the Capitanian peaked in the Palaeoequatorial Cathaysian Province and the two transitional zones (Himalayan Province and Sino-Mongolian-Japanese Province), but fell dramatically in the polar regions. The generic diversity of the Palaeoequatorial Grandian Province is apparently lower than in the two transitional zones of temperate palaeolatitudes, suggesting that the generic diversity of Capitanian brachiopod faunas does not exhibit a strict negative correlation with palaeolatitudes. This in turn would suggest that biogeographical determinants (such as geographical barriers, inhabitable area and ocean currents) other than latitude-related temperature control may also have played an important role in the dispersal of some brachiopods and the characterization of some local provinces and high diversities. The Capitanian global brachiopod palaeobiogeography is generally comparable with those in the Wuchiapingian and Changhsingian, but with some notable differences. These include: (1) that the Grandian Province of the Capitanian in western North America vanished after the end-Guadalupian regression, (2) that the western Tethyan Province of the Lopingian could not be distinguished in the Capitanian, and (3) that the Austrazean Province was larger in area than either in the Wuchiapingian or in the Changhsingian. © 2004 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.