Following the successful cloning of the orphan nuclear receptors during the 1990s we entered the 21st century with knowledge of the full complement of human nuclear receptors. Many of these proteins are ligand-activated transcription factors that act as the cognate receptors for steroid, retinoid, and thyroid hormones. In addition to these well characterized endocrine hormone receptors, there are a large number of orphan receptors of which less is known about the nature and function of their ligands. The task of deciphering the physiological function of these orphan receptors has been aided by a new generation of genomic technologies. Through application of chemical, structural, and functional genomics, several orphan nuclear receptors have emerged as pharmaceutical drug targets for the treatment of important human diseases. The significant progress that has been made in the functional analysis of more than half of the nuclear receptor gene family provides an opportunity to review the impact of genomics in this endeavor.