The acanthocephalan fauna of Australian freshwater fishes was documented from field surveys, a literature survey and examination of specimens registered in Australian museums. From the 4030 fishes, representing 78 of the 354 Australian freshwater fish species (22%), examined for infection seven species of acanthocephalan were recovered. These species comprised five endemic species, three in endemic genera, two species in cosmopolitan genera, one species not fully identified and 1 putative exotic species recovered from eight species of fish. Of these Edmonsacanthus blairi from Melanotaenia splendida, was the only acanthocephalan found at a relatively high prevalence of 38·6%. These findings are indicative of a highly endemic and possibly depauperate acanthocephalan fauna. Species richness was higher in the tropical regions than the temperate regions of the country. Exotic acanthocephalan species have either not been introduced with their exotic hosts or have been unable to establish their life cycles in Australian conditions. Consequently, acanthocephalans have not yet invaded endemic Australian fish hosts.