Monocytes are a highly plastic innate immune cell population that displays significant heterogeneity within the circulation. Distinct patterns of surface marker expression have become accepted as a basis for distinguishing three monocyte subsets in humans. These phenotypic subsets, termed classical, intermediate and nonclassical, have also been demonstrated to differ in regard to their functional properties and disease associations when studiedin vitroandin vivo. Nonetheless, for the intermediate monocyte subset in particular, functional experiments have yielded conflicting results and some studies point to further levels of heterogeneity. Developments in genetic sequencing technology have provided opportunities to more comprehensively explore the phenotypic and functional differences among conventionally-recognized immune cell subtypes as well as the potential to identify novel subpopulations. In this review, we summarize the transcriptomic evidence in support of the existence of three separate monocyte subsets. We also critically evaluate the insights into subset functional distinctions that have been garnered from monocyte gene expression analysis and the potential utility of such studies to unravel subset-specific functional changes which arise in disease states.