Central serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine, 5-HT) systems regulate a wide variety of complex behaviors, and are targeted by drugs used in the treatment of diverse neuropsychiatric disorders. The actions of 5-HT are mediated by a large and heterogeneous family of 5-HT receptor subtypes. Studies of the functional significance of individual subtypes have been complicated by the limited availability of selective receptor agonist and antagonist drugs. Molecular genetic techniques offer complementary approaches for studying the behavioral roles of individual 5-HT receptor subtypes through the generation of gene-targeted and transgenic lines of mice with altered expression of 5-HT receptor genes. This review will examine insights into the serotonergic regulation of behavior that have been produced by the study of these lines, as well as discuss important caveats to the interpretation of these studies.