ABSTRACT A better understanding of genetic diversity in cotton cultivars is needed to make the most of the genetic resources and guarantee continuing improvements in the breeding programs. Our objective was to evaluate the genetic diversity among cotton genotypes from the top breeding programs in Brazil and recommend hybrid combinations that would increase variability. The field experiments we conducted on three cotton genotypes from each of the following Brazilian breeding programs: EMBRAPA, MONSANTO DELTAPINE, FIBERMAX, IMA, TMG and UFU. Several phenotypic evaluations were carried out at V5, B1, full flower and full maturity. Moderate genetic divergence was observed among the genotypes from these breeding programs. Hybridization of the BRS 433 FL B2RF and FM 980 GLT genotypes would likely produce segregating populations with greater genetic variability, yield potential, lint yield and desirable fiber quality. Maturity, micronaire and fiber length were the strongest contributors to genetic divergence.