Approximately 1.1 billion people currently live in countries where consanguineous marriages are customary, and among them one in every three marriages is between cousins. Opinions diverge between those warning of the possible health risks to offspring and others who highlight the social benefits of consanguineous marriages. A consanguinity study group of international experts and counselors met at the Geneva International Consanguinity Workshop from May 3, 2010, to May 7, 2010, to discuss the known and presumptive risks and benefits of close kin marriages and to identify important future areas for research on consanguinity. The group highlighted the importance of evidence-based counseling recommendations for consanguineous marriages and of undertaking both genomic and social research in defining the various influences and outcomes of consanguinity. Technological advances in rapid high-throughput genome sequencing and for the identification of copy number variants by comparative genomic hybridization offer a significant opportunity to identify genotype-phenotype correlations focusing on autozygosity, the hallmark of consanguinity. The ongoing strong preferential culture of close kin marriages in many societies, and among migrant communities in Western countries, merits an equivalently detailed assessment of the social and genetic benefits of consanguinity in future studies.