The incidence of drug-induced neutropenia has not changed in the western hemisphere over the last 30 years. Yet, the drug panorama has changed considerably. This implies that host factors may play an intriguing role for this idiosyncratic reaction. The knowledge as to mechanisms for the reaction has advanced with emerging understanding of neutropoiesis and immune regulation. Nonetheless, it is still remarkably difficult to pinpoint why and how a drug causes this unexpected, severe adverse event in a patient. Patient characteristics, e.g. genetics, appear to be keys for better understanding, predictions and prevention. Am. J. Hematol. 2009. (c) 2009 Wiley-Liss, Inc.