Barley geneticists are currently using association genetics to identify and fine map traits directly in elite plant breeding material. This has been made possible by the development of a highly parallel SNP assay platform that provides sufficient marker density for genome-wide scans and linkage disequilibrium-led gene identification. By leveraging the combined resources of the barley research and breeding sectors, marker-trait associations are being identified and a renewed interest has emerged in novel strategies for barley improvement. New database and visualization tools have been developed and statistical methods adapted from human genetics to account for complexities in the datasets. Exciting early results suggest that association genetics will assume a central role in establishing genotype-to-phenotype relationships.