A long path, initiated more than 40 years ago, has led to a deeper understanding of the complexity of gene regulation in eukaryotic genomes. In addition to genetic mechanisms, the imbalance in the epigenetic control of gene expression may profoundly alter the finely tuned machinery leading to gene regulation. Here, we review the impact of the studies on DNA methylation, the “primadonna” in the epigenetic scenario, on the understanding of basic phenomena, such as X inactivation and genomic imprinting. The effect of deregulation of DNA methylation on human health, will be also discussed. Finally, an attempt to predict future directions of this rapidly evolving field has been proposed, with the certainty that, fortunately, science is always better than predictions. © 2005 Wiley-Liss, Inc.