With rapidly increasing prevalence, diabetes has become one of the major causes of mortality worldwide. According to the latest studies, genetic information makes substantial contributions towards the prediction of diabetes risk and individualized antidiabetic treatment. To date, approximately 70 susceptibility genes have been identified as being associated with type 2 diabetes (T2D) at a genome-wide significant level (P < 5 × 10(-8)). However, all the genetic loci identified so far account for only about 10% of the overall heritability of T2D. In addition, how these novel susceptibility loci correlate with the pathophysiology of the disease remains largely unknown. This review covers the major genetic studies on the risk of T2D based on ethnicity and briefly discusses the potential mechanisms and clinical utility of the genetic information underlying T2D.