Congenital heart disease is the most common congenital abnormality, and advances in medical care mean that this population of individuals is surviving for longer than ever before. It represents a significant healthcare challenge, as many patients require life-long care and individuals may ask about the likelihood of their children being affected. Whilst a number of genes have been identified previously from investigation of families with Mendelian inheritance patterns, sequencing the DNA from large cohorts of individuals with congenital heart disease is now providing fresh insights into the genetics of these conditions. This research has enabled novel gene discovery and uncovered the different genetic mechanisms underlying both isolated congenital heart disease and that which occurs in association with other medical problems. This article discusses the most recent advances in this field and the implications for patient care. In addition, we consider the challenges facing researchers in this field and emphasise the need for close working relationships between clinicians and researchers.