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Primary hypertension is a hereditary disorder characterized by a complex etiological interplay of multiple genetic and environmental factors, until now defying attempts at identifying pathogenetically important genes. The marriage of classical genetics and molecular techniques is now offering a powerful set of tools to uncover such disease-relevant genes.Based upon the availability of methods to directly examine chromosomal and genomic DNA structures, molecular genetics has at its disposal today an array of markers far more numerous and specific than the phenotype parameters used in classical genetics. In addition, use of DNA polymorphisms takes the process of genetic analysis immediately to that level of investigation — the genome — from which relevant data will ultimately come forth. The deployment of these tools in the pursuit of elucidating the pathogenesis of hereditary hypertension, and their use for two commonly applied strategies, candidate gene analysis and reverse genetics, are discussed.Whilst still in its early stages, the application of molecular genetic methods to the study of hereditary hypertension now holds the realistic promise of identifying disease-relevant genes. This will provide the basis for advanced diagnostic, preventive and therapeutic approaches.