This review is part of a series of review articles on the metabolism of drugs and other xenobiotics published in Chemistry & Biodiversity. After a thorough discussion of metabolic reactions and their enzymes, this article focuses on genetically determined differences in drug and xenobiotic metabolism. After a short introduction on the causes for genetic differences, the first focus is on species differences in drug and xenobiotic metabolism. A major chapter is then dedicated to clinically relevant genetic polymorphisms in human drug metabolism and resultant ethnic differences. The last two chapters deal with sex-dependent differences in drug metabolism and personalized pharmacotherapy related to inter-individual differences in drug metabolism.