Asthma is a complex inflammatory disorder controlled by both genetic and environmental influences. Multiple genetic analyses have identified the T helper type 2 (Th2) cytokine gene cluster on chromosome 5q as a susceptibility locus for asthma. Recently, the Th2 cytokine interleukin-13 has been shown to be a critical mediator of the asthma phenotype in murine models. In this commentary we discuss several recent studies that have identified polymorphisms in the gene encoding interleukin-13. The consistent genetic associations of interleukin-13 with asthma and related traits across diverse ethnic populations in these studies provides strong support for the candidacy of this cytokine as a susceptibility locus for asthma and atopy on chromosome 5q31.