A growing list of common and rare genetic risk variants are being implicated in schizophrenia susceptibility. As with other complex genetic disorders most of the variance in genetic risk is still to be attributed. What can be learned from progress to date? The available data challenges how we conceptualize schizophrenia and suggests strong aetiological links with other psychiatric and developmental disorders. With the identification of rare copy number risk variants implicating specific genes (e.g. VIPR2 and NRXN1) it is increasingly possible to investigate molecular aetiology in patient subgroups to establish whether schizophrenia represents one or many different disease processes. This review summarizes recent research progress and suggests how the tools of modern genomics and neuroscience can be applied to best understand this devastating disorder.