Oncogenic mutations in JAK2 and MPL genes have recently been identified in myeloproliferative neoplasms (MPNs). In addition to these mutations, cytogenetic aberrations are frequently present at diagnosis but their role in the pathogenesis remains unclear. Two models of MPN pathogenesis have recently emerged based on either a single-hit or a multi-hit concept. The first model proposes that the acquisition of JAK2 mutations is the disease-initiating event, causing both the onset of disease phenotype and establishment of clonal hematopoiesis. The second model postulates the existence of 'pre-JAK2' mutations that establish clonal hematopoiesis before acquisition of JAK2 mutations and onset of disease phenotype. In this review, the two models have been critically evaluated in the context of the latest findings. At present, neither of the two models can be universally applied to all MPN patients due to their genetic heterogeneity. It is likely that the disease pathogenesis in some patients follows the first, and in other patients, the second model. Thus, the somatic mutations in MPN do not seem to be acquired in a predetermined order as seen in other malignancies, but occur randomly. Furthermore, the role of uniparental disomy in MPN and certain aspects of MPN therapy are discussed.