My aim in this article is to elucidate the relevance of the evolutionary paradigm to the study of kinship and marriage systems. I begin with a discussion of conceptual and methodological issues that arise in approaching human social systems from an evolutionary perspective. I then narrow the focus on key tools used in contemporary cross-cultural research within evolutionary anthropology. Next, as a case study, I provide an overview of work aimed at reconstructing the (pre)history of the nuclear family in Indo-European-speaking societies, focusing on the interplay between monogamous marriage and neolocal residence. I conclude with musings on the prospect of a biologically based social anthropology.