The study of candidate genes over the past three decades has yielded notable successes in common-disease genetics. During this time, however, interpretation of genetic association studies has been hampered by the use of clinical cohorts of inadequate power and insufficient information on genetic variation in candidate genes. The unavailability of highthroughput and low-cost genotyping technologies has also limited the scope of complex-disease genetic studies. More recently, however, the sequencing and characterization of variation within the human genome has revolutionized genetic studies and enabled full genome-wide scans for genes associated with disease. The identification of disease-associated (causative) genes has illuminated disease mechanisms. The translation of this knowledge into direct clinical benefit in diagnosis, prognosis and therapy for an individual's disease still remains a challenge. © 2007 Birkhäuser Verlag.