While the etiology of multiple myeloma (MM) is largely unknown, evidence for an inherited genetic susceptibility is provided by the two-fold increased risk of the disease seen in first-degree relatives of cases of MM. It is likely that part of this heritable risk is a consequence of the co-inheritance of low-risk genetic variants. The accumulated experience to date in identifying risk variants for other tumors has highlighted difficulties in conducting statistically and methodologically rigorous studies. The MyelomA Genetics International Consortium (MAGIC) includes 16 research groups in Europe, Asia, Australasia, the Middle East and the Americas engaged in studying the genetics of MM. The first goal of MAGIC is to identify and characterize common genetic variants for MM through association-based analyses. Here, we review the rationale for identifying genetic risk variants for MM and our proposed strategy for establishing MAGIC.