The 53rd annual conference of the Genetics Society of Canada was held at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, from 17 to 20 June 2010. About 100 geneticists from across Canada and the US attended the meeting, with a total of 27 posters and 55 oral presentations. The presentations highlighted the power of genetics for understanding a variety of biological issues from sex and recombination to alcoholism and cancer, from DNA replication to antimicrobial resistance, horizontal gene transfer, foraging, and courtship. Large-scale genomic and transcriptomic comparisons were included in many presentations to demonstrate the impact of genomics in biomedical research. The combined molecular, developmental, and evolutionary genetic investigations presented at the meeting, especially those on model organisms, highlighted that genes and genetic systems can evolve very rapidly.