Panic disorder (PD) is a highly prevalent, debilitating disorder. The heritability of the disease has been estimated by twin studies to be between 30 and 60%. The vulnerability for PD overlaps with an increased risk of bipolar disorder in some families. Classical genetic methods such as linkage analysis and association studies have not yet identified genetic risk factors beyond doubt. However, two independent studies confirm linkage of a specific syndrome characterized by PD, bladder problems, severe headaches, mitral valve prolapse and thyroid dysfunction to genetic markers on chromosome 13q. Association studies, although showing divergent results, give some support to a causative role for the genes encoding for monoamine oxidase A (MAO-A), cholecystokinin (CCK) and catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT). Finally, a somatic duplication of a 19-Mb region on chromosome 15 has been associated with PD, but this intriguing finding awaits confirmation.