Etanercept is one of several TNF inhibitors approved for rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and a variety of other immune-mediated inflammatory conditions. Given the plethora of drugs approved for RA, and the wide variations in cost and treatment response, markers of efficacy would be very useful. Several candidate genes, including HLA-DRB1 alleles and those encoding TNF, TNF receptors and Fc receptors, have been examined for a role in the response to treatment with etanercept. In this review, we discuss pharmacogenetic studies of etanercept in RA and other diseases, and comment on the future of such analyses to advance the goal of personalized medicine in RA. © 2008 Future Medicine Ltd.