The genetic disorders xeroderma pigmentosum (XP), Cockayne syndrome (CS), and trichothiodystrophy (TTD) are all associated with defects in nucleotide excision repair (NER) of DNA damage. Their clinical features are very different, however, XP being a highly cancer-prone skin disorder, whereas CS and TTD are cancer-free multisystem disorders. All three are genetically complex, with at least eight complementation groups for XP (XP-A to -G and variant), five for CS (CS-A, CS-B, XP-B, XP-D, and XP-G), and three for TTD (XP-B, XP-D, and TTD-A). With the exception of the variant, the products of the XP genes are proteins involved in the different steps of NER, and comprise three damage-recognition proteins, two helicases, and two nucleases. The two helicases, XPB and XPD, are components of the basal transcription factor TFIIH, which has a dual role in NER and initiation of transcription. Different mutations in these genes can affect NER and transcription differentially, and this accounts for the different clinical phenotypes. Mutations resulting in defective repair without affecting transcription result in XP, whereas if transcription is also affected, TTD is the outcome. CS proteins are only involved in transcription-coupled repair, a subpathway of NER in which damage in the transcribed strands of active genes is rapidly and preferentially repaired. Current evidence suggests that they also have an important but not essential role in transcription. The variant form of XP is defective in a novel DNA polymerase, which is able to synthesise DNA past UV-damaged sites.