Genetic improvement of cellulose production in commercially important trees is one of the formidable goals of current forest biotechnology research. To achieve this goal, we must first decipher the enigmatic and complex process of cellulose biosynthesis in trees. The recent availability of rich genomic resources in poplars make Populus the first tree genus for which genetic augmentation of cellulose may soon become possible. Fortunately, because of the structural conservation of key cellulose biosynthesis genes between Arabidopsis and poplar genomes, the lessons learned from exploring the functions of Arabidopsis genes may be applied directly to poplars. However, regulation of these genes will most likely be distinct in these two-model systems because of their inherent biological differences. This research review covers the current state of knowledge about the three major cellulose biosynthesis-related gene families from poplar genomes: cellulose synthases, sucrose synthases and korrigan cellulases. Furthermore, we also suggest some future research directions that may have significant economical impacts on global forest product industries.