The taxon was first named by Paul (1988) based on Nopcsa’s (1928) subfamily Coelophysinae. Sereno (1998) provided the first definition. The active definition is a first-order revision that uses species rather than genera.
Tykoski and Rowe (2004) created a new definition for Coelophysidae using Syntarsus rather than Procompsognathus as an internal specifier, incorrectly citing Holtz (1994) as the source. Holtz (1994), however, did not discuss or define the taxonomic contents of Coelophysidae. They rejected the use of Coelophysidae sensu Sereno because their analysis finds Procompsognathus to be “unsteady under certain conditions.” Their consensus cladogram (Tykoski and Rowe 2004:3.12A) summarizing the results of their anaysis, however, shows Procompsognathus in a fully resolved position that would identify the same clade of coelophysoids as circumscribed by Sereno (1998).
Thus, there is little reason to alter the definition with Tykoski and Rowe’s (2004) second-order revision, as all analyses available show Syntarsus as closer to Coelophysis than Procompsognathus, and Procompsognathus as closer to Coelophysis than Liliensternus or other coelophysoids.