Asthma and atopy are complex phenotypes that are influenced by both genetic and environmental factors. A review of nearly 500 papers on disease association studies identified 25 genes that have been associated with an asthma or atopy phenotype in six or more populations. An additional 54 genes have been associated in 2-5 populations. Here, we discuss the methods that have been used to identify susceptibility genes for common diseases and overview the status of asthma genetic research. Finally, current challenges and future directions are discussed.