The expansion of our knowledge through the Human Genome Project has been accompanied by the development of new high-throughput techniques, which provide extensive capabilities for the analysis of a large number of genes or the whole genome. These assays can be carried out in various clinical samples at the DNA (genome), RNA (transcriptome) or protein (proteome) level. There is a belief that this genomic revolution, i.e. sequencing of the human genome and developments in high-throughput technology, heralds a future of personalised medicine. For clinical oncology, this progress should increase the possibility of predicting individual patient responses to radiotherapy. This review highlights some of the work involving sparsely ionising radiation and the new technologies. © 2007 The Royal College of Radiologists.