Although chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) risk is strongly influenced by cigarette smoking, genetic factors are also important determinants of COPD. In addition to Mendelian syndromes such as alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency, many genomic regions that influence COPD susceptibility have been identified in genome-wide association studies. Similarly, multiple genomic regions associated with COPD-related phenotypes, such as quantitative emphysema measures, have been found. Identifying the functional variants and key genes within these association regions remains a major challenge. However, newly identified COPD susceptibility genes are already providing novel insights into COPD pathogenesis. Network-based approaches that leverage these genetic discoveries have the potential to assist in decoding the complex genetic architecture of COPD.