Objective: Most psychiatric disorders are complex genetic traits involving both genetic and environmental risk factors. This paper aims to review the gene identification strategies being applied by molecular geneticists in their efforts to elucidate the genetic and molecular basis of psychiatric disorders. Future strategies will also be canvassed. Method: The psychiatric genetic literature was reviewed to identify current strategies applied to gene identification, with examples provided where available. The future strategies and applications that will arise from genome projects, including the International Haplotype Mapping Project, are also discussed. Results: Many advances in the techniques of gene discovery, and the increasing resources available, are rapidly being adopted by researchers and applied to the complex problem of identifying susceptibility genes for mental illnesses. Perhaps the single most important advance to date is the Human Genome Project and all that has stemmed from the vast quantity of information that this endeavour has provided. With these technological advances and the massive increase of publicly available genetic resources, several genes have recently been implicated in the susceptibility to psychiatric illnesses including schizophrenia and depression. After many years of fruitless endeavours, these recent reports indicate that the labours of researchers in psychiatric genetics are beginning to show exciting results. Conclusions: Identification of these susceptibility genes holds great promise, with the unravelling of the molecular and biochemical basis of some conditions now being a more realistic and tangible goal. The increasing number of genes being identified augers well for the future treatment of psychiatric disorders. The genes identified, and the pathways of genes and proteins that they implicate, will provide potential novel targets for new therapeutic drugs. Psychiatric genetics appears to be poised for significant advances in our knowledge and understanding of the molecular genetic basis of mental illness.