Abstract Taste perception plays a key role in determining individual food preferences and dietary habits. Individual differences in bitter, sweet, umami, sour, or salty taste perception may influence dietary habits, affecting nutritional status and nutrition-related chronic disease risk. In addition to these traditional taste modalities there is growing evidence that "fat taste" may represent a sixth modality. Several taste receptors have been identified within taste cell membranes on the surface of the tongue, and they include the T2R family of bitter taste receptors, the T1R receptors associated with sweet and umami taste perception, the ion channels PKD1L3 and PKD2L1 linked to sour taste, and the integral membrane protein CD36, which is a putative "fat taste" receptor. Additionally, epithelial sodium channels and a vanilloid receptor, TRPV1, may account for salty taste perception. Common polymorphisms in genes involved in taste perception may account for some of the interindividual differences in food preferences and dietary habits within and between populations. This variability could affect food choices and dietary habits, which may influence nutritional and health status and the risk of chronic disease. This review will summarize the present state of knowledge of the genetic variation in taste, and how such variation might influence food intake behaviors.