This review describes what is currently known about the genetics of prostate cancer. Traditionally, the genetics of a suspected inherited cancer predisposition have generally been thought of in terms of a single, high-risk gene with a dominant mode of inheritance. Such a gene might be observed in families, as has been documented in familial breast cancer (BRCA1/2), familial colorectal cancer (HNPCC), retinoblastoma (RB1), and Wilms tumor (WT1). This review investigates the evidence for the existence, first of familial prostate cancer, and second, for the presence of such a high-risk gene in those families by epidemiological and experimental approaches. Another current area of interest in prostate cancer is the investigation of the contribution of common lower penetrance genes to the disease. This alternative approach has become popular, as it raises the issue of frequently seen genetic variations such as single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) having relevance to the risk of developing the disease. Finally, this article will explore the way forward, with emphasis on worldwide collaboration from teams attempting to find the genes responsible for the disease and investment in new technologies that will aid in their discovery. © 2004 Wiley-Liss, Inc.