Understanding the genetic basis of hearing loss is important because almost 50% of profound hearing loss are caused by genetic factors and more than 120 independent genes have been identified. In this review, after a brief explanation of some genetic terms (allele, heterozygosis, homozygosis, polymorphism, genotype and phenotype), classification of genetic hearing loss (syndromic versus nonsyndromic, and recessive dominant, X-linked and mitochondrial) was performed. Some of the most common syndromes (Usher, Pendred, Jervell and Lange-Nielsen, Waardenburg, branchio-oto-renal, Stickler, Treacher Collins and Alport syndromes, biotinidase deficiency and Norrie disease) causing genetic hearing loss were also explained briefly. The genes involved in hearing loss and genetic heterogeneity were presented. Copyright (c) 2006 S. Karger AG, Basel.