The vertebrate gap junctions formed by the connexin family of transmembrane proteins came to the attention of geneticists in 1993 with the identification of mutations linked to a form of demyelinating neuropathy. Since then, several other genetic disorders have been linked to mutations in specific connexin genes. Also, different diseases can result from different mutations in the same connexin gene. In addition, specific connexin knockout mice have surprising phenotypes. This is leading cell biologists to look afresh at connexins and their involvement in intercellular communication through gap junctions, a process that seems central to coordinating cell function within tissues. Here, we comment on how genetic studies are giving a new impetus to the cell biology of gap junctions.