Abstract The large carpenter bees (Xylocopinae, Xylocopa Latreille) occurring in central Saudi Arabia are reviewed. Two species are recognized in the fauna, Xylocopa (Koptortosoma) aestuans (Linnaeus) and Xylocopa (Ctenoxylocopa) sulcatipes Maa. Diagnoses for and keys to the species of these prominent components of the central Saudi Arabian bee fauna are provided to aid their identification by pollination researchers active in the region. Females and males of both species are figured and biological notes provided for Xylocopa sulcatipes. Notes on the nesting biology and ecology of Xylocopa sulcatipes are appended. As in studies for this species from elsewhere, nests were found in dried stems of Calotropis procera (Aiton) (Asclepiadaceae) and Phoenix dactylifera L. (Arecaceae).