Since the early 1950s, the dominant paradigm in the human genetics of infectious diseases postulates that rare monogenic immunodeficiencies confer vulnerability to multiple infectious diseases (one gene, multiple infections), whereas common infections are associated with the polygenic inheritance of multiple susceptibility genes (one infection, multiple genes). Recent studies, since 1996 in particular, have challenged this view. A newly recognised group of primary immunodeficiencies predisposing the individual to a principal or single type of infection is emerging. In parallel, several common infections have been shown to reflect the inheritance of one major susceptibility gene, at least in some populations. This novel causal relationship (one gene, one infection) blurs the distinction between patient-based Mendelian genetics and population-based complex genetics, and provides a unified conceptual frame for exploring the molecular genetic basis of infectious diseases in humans.