Morphology of the urostylid ciliate Hemicycliostyla sphagni Stokes, 1886, the type of Hemicycliostyla Stokes, 1886, is investigated based on live and protargol-impregnated specimens from a Brazilian population. The absence of transverse cirri, which has been considered the main diagnostic feature of Hemicycliostyla, separating it from Pseudourostyla Borror, 1972, was found to vary within the studied population, with 50 % of the specimens exhibiting inconspicuous and/or rudimentary transverse cirri. A redefinition of Hemicycliostyla was possible based on combined features of interphase and divisional morphogenesis: Retroextendia Berger, 2006, with bi- or multicoronal frontal cirral pattern; fronto-terminal cirri present; multiple left and right marginal cirral rows that replicate independently via within-row development, each parental row producing one primordium per divider; caudal cirri lacking; and presence/absence of transverse cirri may be intrapopulationally variable. Phylogenetic analyses of the 18S rDNA marker unambiguously placed H. sphagni as sister group of Pseudourostyla franzi Foissner, 1987, which is herein transferred to Hemicycliostyla as Hemicycliostyla franzi comb. nov.