The aim of this study was to summarize the available data on larval morphology of the first zoea of the family Hippolytidae and describe the first zoeal stage of H. obliquimanus from two geographically distinct populations, Brazilian and Caribbean in order to discuss inter- and intraspecific variability. Ovigerous females of Hippolyte obliquimanus were collected at Cahuita (Limon, Costa Rica) and at Ubatuba (Sao Paulo, Brazil). We compiled the published descriptions of all available hippolytid Zoea I (66 spp., 21%), and all zoeae share several characteristics. However, such morphological features cannot be used to distinguish the first zoeae of Hippolytidae from other caridean larvae. Historically, the presence of an exopodal seta at the maxillule and the absence of the anal spine/papilla have been considered as characteristic for the Zoea I of the genus Hippolyte. The results of our revision, however, did not support these conclusions: although H. obliquimanus showed an exopodal seta at the maxillule, four congeners did not bear such structure; moreover, H. obliquimanus as well as one other congener have an anal spine/papilla. All morphological characters observed in the first zoeal stage of H. obliquimanus are shared with others species of the family Hippolytidae. Intraspecific variability in Hippolyte obliquimanus was detected in one morphological aspect: the first zoea had four denticles on the ventral margin of the carapace in the Brazilian population, while specimens from the Costa Rican population had three.