It is hoped that an understanding of the genetic basis of Parkinson's disease (PD) will lead to an appreciation of the molecular pathogenesis of disease, which in turn will highlight potential points of therapeutic intervention. It is also hoped that such an understanding will allow identification of individuals at risk for disease prior to the onset of motor symptoms. A large amount of work has already been performed in the identification of genetic risk factors for PD and some of this work, particularly those efforts that focus on genes implicated in monogenic forms of PD, have been successful, although hard won. A new era of gene discovery has begun, with the application of genome wide association studies; these promise to facilitate the identification of common genetic risk loci for complex genetic diseases. This is the first of several high throughput technologies that promise to shed light on the (likely) myriad genetic factors involved in this complex, late-onset neurodegenerative disorder.