In large part, the relevance of genetics to conservation rests on the premise that neutral marker variation in populations reflects levels of detrimental and adaptive genetic variation. Despite its prominence, this tenet has been difficult to evaluate, until now. As we discuss here, genome sequence information and new technological and bioinformatics platforms now enable comprehensive surveys of neutral variation and more direct inferences of detrimental and adaptive variation in species with sequenced genomes and in 'genome-enabled' endangered taxa. Moreover, conservation schemes could begin to consider specific pathological genetic variants. A new conservation genetic agenda would utilize data from enhanced surveys of genomic variation in endangered species to better manage functional genetic variation.