The Capnodiales, which includes fungi known as the sooty moulds, represents the second largest order in Dothideomycetes, encompassing morphologically and ecologically diverse fungi with different lifestyles and modes of nutrition. They include saprobes, plant and human pathogens, mycoparasites, rock-inhabiting fungi (RIF), lichenised, epi-, ecto- and endophytes. The aim of this study was to elucidate the lifestyles and evolutionary patterns of the Capnodiales as well as to reconsider their phylogeny by including numerous new collections of sooty moulds, and using four nuclear loci, LSU, ITS, TEF-1α and RPB2. Based on the phylogenetic results, combined with morphology and ecology, Capnodiales s. lat. is shown to be polyphyletic, representing seven different orders. The sooty moulds are restricted to Capnodiales s. str., while Mycosphaerellales is resurrected, and five new orders including Cladosporiales, Comminutisporales, Neophaeothecales, Phaeothecales and Racodiales are introduced. Four families, three genera, 21 species and five combinations are introduced as new. Furthermore, ancestral reconstruction analysis revealed that the saprobic lifestyle is a primitive state in Capnodiales s. lat., and that several transitions have occurred to evolve lichenised, plant and human parasitic, ectophytic (sooty blotch and flyspeck) and more recently epiphytic (sooty mould) lifestyles.