Hypostomus is a species-rich genus of fish with unclear systematics and phylogenetic relationships. Ten species of Hypostomus (H. albopunctatus, H. ancistroides, H. cochliodon, H. commersoni, H. faveolus, H. hermanni, H. aff. paulinus, H. regani, H. strigaticeps and H. topavae) were cytogenetically analyzed through Giemsa staining and silver nitrate impregnation, and the obtained data were ... [Show full abstract] correlated to the available biogeographical and phylogenetic analyses for the genus. Although the silver stained nucleolar organizer regions (AgNORs) were found to vary significantly among the species, the diploid numbers could be correlated to the distribution of the species on northern and southern South America river basins. Species with the lower diploid numbers (2n = 64) were associated to northern hydrographic basins and showed a single AgNORs bearing pair. Diploid numbers of 66–68 chromosomes and of 70–84 chromosomes were correlated to two major clades within Hypostomus and southern hydrographic basins, and showed AgNORs varying on number and position. Our results show that cytogenetic data can be correlated to the phylogeny and biogeography of the genus, helping to clarify its complex evolutionary history.