Well-preserved cuticles were isolated from Cordaites principalis (Germar) Geinitz leaf compressions, i.e., foliage from extinct gymnosperm trees Coniferophyta: Order Cordaitales. The specimens were collected from the Sydney. Stellarton and Bay St. George subbasins of the once extensive Carboniferous Maritimes Basin of Atlantic Canada. Fourier transformation of infrared spectra (FTIR) and elemental analyses indicate that the ca. 300-306-million-year-old fossil cuticles share many of the functional groups observed in modern cuticles. The similarities of the functional groups in each of the three cuticular morphotypes studied support the inclusion into a single cordaite-leaf taxon, i.e., C. principalis (Germar), confirming previous morphological investigations. Vitrinite reflectance measurements on coal seams in close proximity to the fossil-bearing sediments reveal that the Bay St. George sample site has the lowest thermal maturity, whereas the sites in Sydney and Stellarton are more mature. IR absorption and elemental analyses of the cordaite compressions corroborate this trend, which suggests that the coalified mesophyll in the leaves follows a maturation path similar to that of vitrinite. Comparison of functional groups of the cordaite cuticles with those from certain pteridosperms previously studied from the Sydney Subbasin shows that in the cordaite cuticles highly conjugated C-O (1632 cm-1) bands dominate over carbonyl stretch that characterizes the pteridosperm cuticles. The differences demonstrate the potential of chemotaxonomy as a valuable tool to assist distinguishing between Carboniferous plant-fossil groups. Published by Elsevier Science B.V.