Phenotypic variation for quantitative traits results from the simultaneous segregation of alleles at multiple quantitative trait loci. Understanding the genetic architecture of quantitative traits begins with mapping quantitative trait loci to broad genomic regions and ends with the molecular definition of quantitative trait loci alleles. This has been accomplished for some quantitative trait loci in Drosophila. Drosophila quantitative trait loci have sex-, environment- and genotype-specific effects, and are often associated with molecular polymorphisms in non-coding regions of candidate genes. These observations offer valuable lessons to those seeking to understand quantitative traits in other organisms, including humans.