Family history is a risk factor for many chronic diseases, including cancer, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes. Professional guidelines usually include family history to assess health risk, initiate interventions, and motivate behavioral changes. The advantages of family history over other genomic tools include a lower cost, greater acceptability, and a reflection of shared genetic and environmental factors. However, the utility of family history in public health has been poorly explored. To establish family history as a public health tool, it needs to be evaluated within the ACCE framework (analytical validity; clinical validity; clinical utility; and ethical, legal, and social issues). Currently, private and public organizations are developing tools to collect standardized family histories of many diseases. Their goal is to create family history tools that have decision support capabilities and are compatible with electronic health records. These advances will help realize the potential of family history as a public health tool.