Obesity has become a global epidemic and contributes to the increasing burden of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, stroke, some types of cancer, and premature death worldwide. Obesity is highly heritable and arises from the interactions of multiple genes, environmental factors, and behavior. In this paper, the authors reviewed recent developments in genetic epidemiologic research, focusing particularly on several promising genomic regions and obesity-related genes. Gene-gene and gene-environment interactions of obesity were also discussed. Published studies were accessed through the MEDLINE database. The authors also searched the Obesity Gene Map Database (http://obesitygene.pbrc.edu/) and conducted a manual search using references cited in relevant papers. Heritabilities for obesity-related phenotypes varied from 6% to 85% among various populations. As of October 2005, 253 quantitative trait loci for obesity-related phenotypes have been localized in 61 genome-wide linkage scans, and genetic variants in 127 biologic candidate genes have been reported to be associated with obesity-related phenotypes from 426 positive findings. Gene-gene interactions were also observed in several genes, and some genes were found to influence the effect of dietary intake and physical activity on obesity-related phenotypes. Integration of genetic epidemiology with functional genomics and proteomics studies will be required to fully understand the role of genetic variants in the etiology and prevention of obesity.