Globally, priority areas for biodiversity are relatively well known, yet few detailed plans exist to direct conservation action within them, despite urgent need. Madagascar, like other globally recognized biodiversity hot spots, has complex spatial patterns of endemism that differ among taxonomic groups, creating challenges for the selection of within-country priorities. We show, in an analysis of wide taxonomic and geographic breadth and high spatial resolution, that multitaxonomic rather than single-taxon approaches are critical for identifying areas likely to promote the persistence of most species. Our conservation prioritization, facilitated by newly available techniques, identifies optimal expansion sites for the Madagascar government's current goal of tripling the land area under protection. Our findings further suggest that high-resolution multitaxonomic approaches to prioritization may be necessary to ensure protection for biodiversity in other global hot spots.