In the developed world the majority of disease results from common, but complex disorders such as diabetes, obesity and cancer. Genetic variation explains a large proportion of an individual’s risk of developing these diseases; however, success in identifying the particular gene variants involved has been limited. Recent advances in high-throughput genotyping technology, and a better understanding of the genetic architecture of complex disease has led to the development of genome-wide association studies (GWA), which are providing novel and important insights into disease processes. The results from these studies could be of substantial clinical importance in the relatively near future. In this review, we present some recent, exciting findings from studies that have used the GWA approach, and discuss the clinical application of identifying disease susceptibility genes and variants.