Inherited variations in the nucleotide sequence of genes influence how individual patients respond to drugs. Most commonly, clinically significant genetic variations consist of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) within genes that affect drug disposition or drug targets. Up to now, relatively few clinically important examples of inherited traits that affect drug responses have been studied in detail. However, one of the well-characterized examples is highly relevant to inflammatory bowel disease therapeutics, that of thiopurine methyltransferase pharmacogenetics. Individuals with 2 normal alleles of the gene encoding thiopurine methyltransferase metabolize and clear thiopurines such as azathioprine and 6-mercaptopurine rapidly. Individuals with 1 normal and 1 variant allele are intermediate, whereas those with 2 variant alleles clear thiopurines very slowly. Intermediate and slow metabolizers are predisposed to have high active thiopurine drug levels and develop bone marrow suppression. Genomic era technology permits determination of large numbers of SNPs in large numbers of individuals. This capability is allowing the field of pharmacogenomics to become one of the most productive interfaces in translational biomedical research at present. By using high-throughput SNP genotyping, combined with careful phenotypic characterization of disease, pharmacogenomic research carries the potential of identifying individual biomarkers that predict the relative likelihood of benefit or risk from a therapeutic intervention. If this promise can be realized, pharmacogenomics will deliver the opportunity for personalized medicine.