To asses phylogenetic relationships among the higher ruminants (infraorder Percora, order Artiodactyla), we analyzed K-casein DNA sequences, including 434 nucleotides of the fourth exon. The higher ruminant families Bovidae, Cervidae, Giraffidae, and Antilocapridae each have monophyletic K-casein sequences. Maximum parsimony and distance analyses identify Giraffidae as a sister group to either Cervidae or a Bovidae-Ceridae clade and Antilocapridae as a sister group to a Bovidae-Cervidae-Giraffidae clade. At a higher level these four families occur as a monophyletic clade relative to Tragulidae and Suidae. Within Cervidae, the subfamily Odocoileinae is monophyletic and Cervinae and Muntiacinae occuur as independent lineages within a separate clade. Within Bovidae, the subfamilies Bovinae and Caprinae are monophyletic. Genera within Cervinae (Cervus, Elaphyrys) and Bovinae (Bison, Bos) are paraphyletic. There is intraspecific allelic variation in Cervus elaphus, Odocoileus hemionus, and Bison bison. The rate of K-casein fourth exon DNA sequence evolution is estimated to be about 0.004 nucleotide subsitutions per million years. The K-casein phylogeny is discussed relative to other moelcular and morphological data.