Amelogenesis imperfecta (AI) is a collective term for a number of conditions with abnormal enamel formation. Many cases are inherited, either as an X-linked, autosomal dominant or autosomal recessive trait. Several classifications have evolved since 1945, based primarily on phenotype with the mode of inheritance being used in some systems as a secondary factor in allocating a case into a particular category. The benefits and shortcomings of these systems are reviewed. As we move into an era of establishing the molecular basis of AI we propose a robust mechanism for classification and cataloguing of the disorder which parallels systems used in medical genetics. This system is applicable to individuals and families irrespective of current or future knowledge of the molecular defect involved. We argue that this system is of more benefit to these individuals and families than previous classifications.