In mammals, most somatic cells contain two copies of each autosomal gene, one inherited from each parent. When a gene is expressed, both parental alleles are usually transcribed. However, a subset of genes is subject to the epigenetic silencing of one of the parental copies by genomic imprinting. In this review, we explore the evidence for variability in genomic imprinting between different tissue and cell types. We also consider why the imprinting of particular genes may be restricted to, or lost in, specific tissues and discuss the potential for high-throughput sequencing technologies in facilitating the characterisation of tissue-specific imprinting and assaying the potentially functional variations in epigenetic marks.