Endometriosis long has been recognized as showing heritable tendencies, with recurrence risks of 5% to 7% for first-degree relatives. The risk indicates that polygenic and multifactorial etiology is far more likely to be the cause than mendelian inheritance. The current task is to determine the number and location of genes responsible for endometriosis. Molecular advances of the past decade make identification and elucidation of these genes a reality. The authors review the basis for concluding that endometriosis is a genetic disorder of polygenic/multifactorial inheritance. Genome-wide strategies for identifying causative genes are considered and available data on association or linkage to putative candidate genes systematically reviewed.