Most measurable aspects of normal personality appear to be at least moderately heritable, with direct evidence coming from family, twin and adoption studies and indirect support deriving from psychophysiological research and breeding experiments on animals. Interestingly, genetic studies also shed light on the environmental sources of variation in personality and suggest that shared family environment rarely, if ever, has any positive effect on similarity between relatives. Despite problems of classification, and variations in the use of terms, a survey of the literature provides reasonably consistent evidence of a genetic contribution to several categories of abnormal personality, which we here divide into three groups, antisocial, anxious/avoidant, and schizoid–schizotypal personalities. However, personality disorders are complex traits that do not show simple mendelian patterns of inheritance and so far molecular genetics has been of no help in understanding their aetiology. Fortunately, techniques are now becoming available that enable the detection and potential localisation of genes of small effect and which may help elucidate the molecular basis even of (probably) polygenic traits such as abnormal personality.