Genetic approaches have been used to investigate increasingly complex biological systems. Here we review the current state of genetic analysis of learning and memory in the fruitfly, Drosophila melanogaster. Emerging findings support two main themes. First, discovery and manipulation of genes involved with behavioral plasticity in genetically accessible systems such as D. melanogaster enables dissection of the biochemical, cellular, anatomical, and behavioral pathways of learning and memory. Second, because core cellular mechanisms of simple forms of learning are evolutionarily conserved, biological pathways discovered in invertebrates are likely to be conserved in vertebrate systems as well.