This article reviews evidence that bipolar disorder (BPD) and schizophrenia (SZ) share familial risk characteristics. The topic is introduced with a brief discussion of various shared epidemiologic characteristics of SZ and BPD. Family studies of BPD and SZ, conducted by multiple independent groups of investigators, are consistent with partial overlap in familial susceptibility. Given that the family study data suggest overlap in familial susceptibility for BPD and SZ, several confirmed linkages of BPD or SZ are reviewed, with the conclusion that there are five genomic regions for which evidence suggests shared genetic susceptibility of BPD and SZ. It is suggested that nosology must be changed to reflect the genetic origins of the multiple disorders that are collectively described by the terms BPD and SZ. © 2003 Wiley-Liss, Inc.