Leishmaniasis is one of the world's important infectious diseases. It is prevalent in tropical and subtropical regions of the world and endemic in 88 countries, with two million new cases of leishmaniasis reported annually. As a complex disease, the pathology of leishmaniasis varies and is determined by factors such as the environment, the insect vector, and parasite and host genetics. The contributing host genetics involve multiple genes; thus, the mouse model of leishmaniasis has been exploited extensively in an attempt to identify and dissect the contribution of disease modifier genes to pathogenesis. This review summarizes recent advances in the identification of genetic loci involved in the host response to Leishmania spp. in the mouse model and in the human situation.