Psoriasis is a chronic inflammatory disorder of the skin that is mediated by T cells, dendritic cells and inflammatory cytokines. We now understand many of the cellular alterations that underlie this disease, and genomic approaches have recently been used to assess the alterations of gene expression in psoriatic skin lesions. Genetic susceptibility factors that contribute to predisposition to psoriasis are now also being identified. It is hoped that we will soon be able to correlate the cellular pathogenesis that occurs in psoriasis with these genetic factors. In this Review article, we describe what is known about genes that confer increased susceptibility to psoriasis, and we integrate this with what is known about the molecular and cellular mechanisms that occur in other inflammatory and autoimmune disorders.