Pharmacogenetics/-genomics (PGx) was a major topic of the XI edition of the Sao Paulo Research Conferences (SPRC, 18-20 September, 2008), sponsored jointly by the Sub-Committee on Pharmacogenetics of the International Union of Basic and Clinical Pharmacology (IUPHAR) and the Brazilian Pharmacogenetics Network (Refargen), in collaboration with the University of Sao Paulo, Brazil. Conceived as a series of meetings to explore the frontiers of knowledge in medicine, biology and social sciences, the SPRC covered in previous editions a broad range of topics, such as Cancer, Drug Addiction, Evolution and the Origin of Life, Infections and Vaccines, Memory, and Molecular Biology. The PGx program of the XI SPRC comprised a keynote lecture on Clinical aspects of pharmacogenetics: Promises and future, four symposia, poster exhibits and an oral communication session. Two symposia focused on PGx in clinical practice, and covered recent developments in the PGx of analgesics, cancer chemotherapy, anti-HIV drugs, statins and oral anticoagulants. The two other symposia focused on PGx in special populations (pediatric patients, Amerindians, Hispanic populations and admixed populations), ethical aspects of PGx and recent developments in the PGx of CYP450 drug metabolizing enzymes and drug transporters. The IUPHAR Sub-Committee on Pharmacogenetics met at the last day of conference and it was unanimously agreed that the conference format provided a valuable model for future educational initiatives of the committee. Finally, the launching of an online pharmacogenetics database for the Brazilian population at Refargen´s internet site (www.refargen.org.br) was announced at the conference.