The genic capture hypothesis offers a resolution to the question of how genetic variation in male sexually selected traits is maintained in the face of strong female preferences. The hypothesis is that male display traits are costly to produce and hence depend upon overall condition, which itself is dependent upon genes at many loci. Few attempts have been made to test the assumptions and predictions of the genic capture hypothesis rigorously and, in particular, little attention has been paid to determining the genetic basis of condition. Such tests are crucial to our understanding of the maintenance of genetic variation and in the evaluation of recent models that propose a role for sexual selection in the maintenance of sex. Here, we review approaches to testing the link between genetically determined condition and levels of sexual trait expression and consider the probable importance of deleterious mutations.