Cytosine methylation is the most common covalent modification of DNA in eukaryotes. DNA methylation has an important role in many aspects of biology, including development and disease. Methylation can be detected using bisulfite conversion, methylation-sensitive restriction enzymes, methyl-binding proteins and anti-methylcytosine antibodies. Combining these techniques with DNA microarrays and high-throughput sequencing has made the mapping of DNA methylation feasible on a genome-wide scale. Here we discuss recent developments and future directions for identifying and mapping methylation, in an effort to help colleagues to identify the approaches that best serve their research interests.