The improvement and utilisation of host genetic resistance to disease is an attractive option as a component of livestock disease control in a wide range of situations. This paper reviews the situations where genetic resistance of the host is likely to be a useful component of disease control and provides a framework for deciding whether genetic improvement of resistance is likely to be worthwhile. Discussion is focused on low-input production systems in the developing world, where disease resistance is particularly important. The authors propose an integrated strategy for the use of molecular markers in assessing genetic diversity and in utilising and improving host genetic resistance to disease. The integrated approach assures that there is value in the molecular genetic information whether or not it proves useful in genetic selection, a feature that should prove attractive to funding and executing agencies.