The Human Genome Project will have an enormous impact on our ability to study and understand human disease by providing maps of human genes. However, many of the most prevalent human diseases result from the complex interaction of numerous genes. Even with the use of a catalogue of human genes, the task of analyzing complex genetic and environmental interactions involved in the common human disorders will be formidable. Due to its demographic specificities and large size, the Chinese population offers a unique resource for the study of human genetics and the ability to capitalize upon the recent revolution in biotechnology. Reasons that China provides an exceptional population for genetic studies of complex diseases include: (i) the resource of 1.3 billion people makes obtaining a large number of subjects with rare (and common) diseases possible; (ii) relative genetic homogeneity in many regions has been preserved; (iii) stratification is distinct; (iv) urban/rural and geographic contrasts, both in environmental factors and disease occurrence, are quite marked; (v) family members tend to stay congregated; and (vi) epidemiologic study is cost-beneficial.