The introduction of molecular markers has revolutionized genetics. The range of polymorphisms that are available is increasing and the advent of large-scale cDNA and genomic sequencing is a source of an ever-increasing set of available markers. The ease with which any particular marker type can be applied to an experimental system depends, to some extent, on the amount of genomic information available for that system. However, comparative genomics is enabling a wider range of marker technology to be applied to relatively information-poor systems. The types of markers that are available include restriction fragment length polymorphisms, amplified fragment length polymorphisms, ransom amplified polymorphic DNAs, simple sequence repeats, single nucleotide polymorphisms and small insertions/deletions. The types of questions that can be addressed with these molecular markers include the generation of genetic and physical maps for the identification of interesting loci, the development of marker-based gene tags, map-based cloning of agronomically important genes, synteny mapping, marker-assisted selection and quantitative trait analysis. The continued development of technology including new high throughput methods, for example those being applied to single nucleotide polymorphisms, will change the ease with which current questions can be answered as well as enable new analyses that are presently impossible to undertake.