Medical genetics was revolutionized during the 1980s by the application of genetic mapping to locate the genes responsible for simple Mendelian diseases. Most diseases and traits, however, do not follow simple inheritance patterns. Genetics have thus begun taking up the even greater challenge of the genetic dissection of complex traits. Four major approaches have been developed: linkage analysis, allele-sharing methods, association studies, and polygenic analysis of experimental crosses. This article synthesizes the current state of the genetic dissection of complex traits--describing the methods, limitations, and recent applications to biological problems.