objective and method: a large increase in the number of brazilian studies on psychiatric genetics has been observed in the 1970's since the first publications conducted by a group of researchers in brazil. here we reviewed the literature and evaluated the advantages and difficulties of psychiatric genetic studies in the brazilian population. conclusion: the brazilian population is one of the most heterogeneous populations in the world, formed mainly by the admixture between european, african and native american populations. although the admixture process is not a particularity of the brazilian population, much of the history and social development in brazil underlies the ethnic melting pot we observe nowadays. such ethnical heterogeneity of the brazilian population obviously brings some problems when performing genetic studies. however, the brazilian population offers a number of particular characteristics that are of major interest when genetic studies are carried out, such as the presence of isolated populations. thus, differences in the genetic profile and in the exposure to environmental risks may result in different interactions and pathways to psychopathology.