Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of vision loss and blindness among older adults in the USA and throughout the developed world. Etiological research suggests that AMD is a complex disease, caused by the actions and interactions of multiple genes and environmental factors. Familial aggregation studies, twin studies, and segregation analyses have provided strong evidence for the heritability of AMD, and linkage and association studies have been conducted to localize the disease-causing genes. Whole genome linkage scans have implicated nearly every chromosome in the human genome, with the most replicated signals residing on 1q25-31 and 10q26. Association studies have identified a major risk variant within the complement factor H gene (CFH), and recent reports suggest that PLEKHA1/LOC387715 and the BF/C2 regions may be major risk loci for AMD as well. Several other genes have had at least one positive association finding and deserve further exploration. Among these, apolipoprotein E (APOE) may be a minor risk locus. Additional genes will likely be identified, and future studies should explore the potential interactions of these genes with other genes as well as environmental factors.