The field of genetics and autoimmune diseases is undergoing a rapid and unprecedented expansion with new genetic findings being reported at an astounding pace. It is now clear that multiple genes contribute to each of the major autoimmune disorders, with significant genetic overlaps among them. Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is no exception to this, and emerging data are beginning to reveal the outlines of new diagnostic subgroups, complex overlapping relationships with other autoimmune disorders and potential new targets for therapy. This review describes the evolving genetic landscape of RA, with the full knowledge that our current view is far from complete. However, with the first round of genome-wide association scans now completed, it is reasonable to begin to take stock of the direction in which the major common genetic risk factors are leading us.