The genes that are mutated in two of the rare syndromes of hereditary colon cancer were recently identified, and genetic diagnosis is already possible in some cases. Acquired mutations of these same genes also appear to be important in sporadic colon cancers. Familial clustering of sporadic cases is common and may likewise arise from inherited susceptibility. Screening strategies for both the rare syndromes and the common cases of colon cancer with familial risk have been suggested. Certain clinical features allow stratification of colon cancer risk among common cases. It is anticipated that continued genetic investigation will result in more precise screening and improved diagnostic and therapeutic options for colon cancer.