The history and rate of discovery of the 247 valid Recent stylasterid species are discussed and graphed, with emphasis on five historical pulses of species descriptions. A table listing all genera, their species numbers, and their bathymetric ranges are presented. The number of species in 19 oceanographic regions is mapped, the southwestern temperate Pacific (region including New Zealand) having the most species; species are cosmopolitan from the Arctic Circle to the Antarctic at depths from 0 to 2789 m. The current phylogenetic classification of the genera is briefly discussed. An illustrated glossary of 53 morphological characters is presented. Biological and ecological information pertaining to reproduction, development, commensals, and distribution is discussed. Aspects of stylasterid mineralogy and taxa of commercial value are discussed, concluding with suggestions for future work.