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The current use of analgesics is based on the empiric administration of a given drug with clinical monitoring for efficacy and toxicity. However, individual responses to drugs are influenced by a combination of pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic processes, and each of these components, in addition to pain perception and processing, seem to be regulated by genetic factors. Whereas polymorphic drug-metabolizing enzymes and drug transporters may affect the pharmacokinetics of drugs, polymorphic drug targets and disease-related pathways may influence the pharmacodynamic action of drugs. After usual dose, drug toxicity, as well as inefficacy, can be observed depending on the polymorphism, the analgesic considered and the presence or absence of active metabolites. Thus, cytochrome P450 (CYP) 2D6 polymorphism influences codeine and tramadol analgesic effects, CYP2C9 has an impact on the disposition of some nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, and opioid receptor polymorphism (118A>G) may reduce morphine potency. Moreover, drug interaction mimics genetic deficiency and contributes to the variability in response to analgesics. This two-part review summarizes the available data on the pharmacokinetic–pharmacodynamic consequences of known polymorphisms of drug-metabolizing enzymes (CYP and uridine diphosphate glucuronosyltransferase), drug transporters (multidrug resistance proteins, multidrug resistance-associated proteins, organic anion-transporting polypeptides, and serotonin transporters), relevant drug targets (such as µ-opioid receptor, serotonin receptor and cyclooxygenases) and other nonopioid biological systems, on currently prescribed central and peripheral analgesics.