Described as Corvus tricolor by Müller in 1776, with a type locality of Cayenne. Clearly Capuchinbird is not a Corvus (Corvidae), and during the 19th century was classified in the genus Gymnocephalus Geoffry Saint-Hilaire 1809; Gymnocephalus was preoccupied by a genus of fish described in 1801, however, and so Oberholser (1899) erected the genus Perissocephalus.
Traditionally Perissocephalus has been regarded as related to other genera of large bodied cotingas, such as Gymnoderus, Haematoderus, Querula, Pyroderus, Cephalopterus, and Procnias (e.g. Snow 1973). Phylogenetic analysis of DNA sequence data, from both nuclear and mitochondrial genes, confirms the general outlines of the traditional relationships, with respect to Perissocephalus, Haematoderus, Querula, Pyroderus, and Cephalopterus, and in particular identifies Perissocephalus as a member of a clade with Cephalopterus and Pyroderus (Ohlson et al. 2007, Tello et al. 2009). Within this clade, Ohlson et al. (2007) identify Perissocephalus and Cephalopterus as sister taxa, whereas Tello et al. (2009) resolve Perissocephalus as basal to the pair Cephalopterus + Pyroderus.