Abstract Deep-water coral habitats off the southeastern USA (SEUS) support diverse fish and invertebrate assemblages, but are poorly explored. This study is the first to report on the hydroids collected from these habitats in this area. Thirty-five species, including two species that are likely new to science, were identified from samples collected primarily by manned submersible during 2001–2005 from deep-water coral habitats off North Carolina to east-central Florida. Eleven of the species had not been reported since the 19th to mid-20th century. Ten species, and one family, the Rosalindidae, are documented for the first time in the SEUS. Latitudinal ranges of 15 species are extended, and the deepest records in the western North Atlantic for 10 species are reported. A species accumulation curve illustrated that we continue to add to our knowledge of hydroid diversity in these habitats. Sexually mature individuals were collected for 19 species during the summer to early autumn months. Most of the observed species (89%) liberate planula larvae as part of their life cycles, suggesting that these species exhibit a reproductive strategy that reduces the risk of dispersal to sub-optimal habitats. Hydroids occurred across various substrata including coral rubble, live corals, rock and other animal hosts including hydroids themselves. All observed species were regionally widespread with typically deep-neritic to bathyal sub-tropical/tropical distributions. Hydroid assemblages from deep-water SEUS coral habitats were most similar to those from adjacent deep-water habitats off the SEUS (17 shared species), and those in the Straits of Florida/Bahamas and Caribbean/West Indian regions (14 and 8 shared species, respectively). The similarity to sub-tropical and tropical assemblages and the richness of plumularioids in the SEUS deep-water coral habitats support the idea of a Pleistocene intrusion of tropical species northwards following an intensification of the Gulf Stream from the Caribbean.