The continuing deluge of nucleotide polymorphism data is providing insights into the role of adaptation in shaping genome-wide patterns of variability and molecular evolution. Population genetic models in which linkage and selection interact (i.e. hitchhiking) predict that selection can leave 'footprints' in closely linked genomic regions. New analytical approaches show promise for distinguishing the signature of adaptation from that of several non-adaptive alternatives. Accounting for the effects of population structure and history poses a challenge for future investigations.