The development of any organism is a complex dynamic process that is controlled by a network of genes as well as by environmental factors. Traditional mapping approaches for analysing phenotypic data measured at a single time point are too simple to reveal the genetic control of developmental processes. A general statistical mapping framework, called functional mapping, has been proposed to characterize, in a single step, the quantitative trait loci (QTLs) or nucleotides (QTNs) that underlie a complex dynamic trait. Functional mapping estimates mathematical parameters that describe the developmental mechanisms of trait formation and expression for each QTL or QTN. The approach provides a useful quantitative and testable framework for assessing the interplay between gene actions or interactions and developmental changes.