At the start of the Spanish Civil War, the class served on the Spanish Republican Navy and blockaded the Gibraltar Strait. Class members saw some action. Almirante Ferrándiz and Gravina took part in the Battle of Cape Espartel, where the Almirante Ferrándiz was sunk by the Nationalist cruiser Canarias. Lepanto, Almirante Valdes, Almirante Antequera, Gravina, Jorge Juan, and Escaño participated in the Battle of Cape Cherchell. Lepanto, Sánchez Barcaiztegui, Almirante Miranda and Grafina were engaged in the Battle of Cape Palos, where Lepanto sank the Nationalist cruiser Baleares with torpedoes. Ciscar was sunk by aircraft in Gijon harbour, refloated by the rebels, and used by them in the final phases of the war.
One member of the class, due to her strong resemblance to a British destroyer, was used in an attempt to break the blockade of the Gibraltar Strait and return to the Mediterranean Sea after the fall of the Republican government in the north of Spain in 1938. José Luis Díez, painted with the pennant number of HMS Grenville, was intercepted by Canarias and other ships, and beached herself in Gibraltar.
When the Spanish Civil War ended, the class was turned over to the Nationalists.
The last two ships were commissioned in 1951, updated with only 4 guns but quadruple rather than triple torpedo tubes, Q gun being landed as weight compensation.