The application of allelic association to map genes for complex traits, particularly using highdensity maps of single nucleotide polymorphisms in candidate regions, is an area of very active research. Here we present some aspects of the methodology and applications to both major gene mapping, which illustrates the effectiveness of the method, and oligogenes, where methods are still in flux and for which there have been relatively few successes to date. Several important considerations emerge, including the selection of the optimal metric for measuring association and the importance of modelling the decline in association with distance given the variability in association in a candidate region. The Malecot model of association with distance is shown to have a resolution of greater than 50 kilobases but the available evidence suggests that considerably higher resolution might be achieved with dense single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) maps.