OBJECTIVES: The objective was to provide an updated overview of the biological pathways, candidate genes, and molecular markers involved in fatigue, pain, negative (depressed mood) and positive (well-being/happiness) emotional functioning, social functioning, and overall QOL. METHODS: We followed a purposeful search algorithm of existing literature to capture empirical papers investigating the relationship between biological pathways and molecular markers and the identified QOL domains. RESULTS: Multiple major pathways are involved in each QOL domain. The inflammatory pathway has the strongest evidence as a controlling mechanism underlying fatigue. Inflammation and neurotransmission are key processes involved in pain perception, and the catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT) gene is associated with multiple sorts of pain. The neurotransmitter and neuroplasticity theories have the strongest evidence for their relationship with depression. Oxytocin-related genes and genes involved in the serotonergic and dopaminergic pathways play a role in social functioning. Inflammatory pathways, via cytokines, also play an important role in overall QOL. CONCLUSIONS: Whereas the current findings need future experiments and replication efforts, they will provide researchers supportive background information when embarking on studies relating candidate genes and/or molecular markers to QOL domains. The ultimate goal of this area of research is to enhance patients' QOL. BACKGROUND: There is compelling evidence of a genetic foundation of patient-reported quality of life (QOL). Given the rapid development of substantial scientific advances in this area of research, the current paper updates and extends reviews published in 2010.