Dual diagnosis, defined in this instance as the co-occurrence of mental health disorders with mental retardation, has become a major area of clinical practice and research in the past 10 years. Whereas areas such as differential diagnosis, assessment, and prevalence have been major focuses of research, etiologies of dual diagnosis have received less attention. Current etiological theories have practical implications for the treatment and prevention of dual diagnoses and suggest important directions for future research. This article provides a historical review of theory development in the field of dual diagnosis. Current status of etiological theories and future directions are discussed with an aim toward encouraging further study.