Interindividual variability in drug response is a major clinical problem. Polymedication and genetic polymorphisms modulating drug-metabolising enzyme activities (cytochromes P450, CYP) are identified sources of variability in drug responses. We present here the relevant data on the clinical impact of the major CYP polymorphisms (CYP2D6, CYP2C19 and CYP2C9) on drug therapy where genotyping and phenotyping may be considered, and the guidelines developed when available. CYP2D6 is responsible for the oxidative metabolism of up to 25 % of commonly prescribed drugs such as antidepressants, antipsychotics, opioids, antiarrythmics and tamoxifen. The ultrarapid metaboliser (UM) phenotype is recognised as a cause of therapeutic inefficacy of antidepressant, whereas an increased risk of toxicity has been reported in poor metabolisers (PMs) with several psychotropics (desipramine, venlafaxine, amitriptyline, haloperidol). CYP2D6 polymorphism influences the analgesic response to prodrug opioids (codeine, tramadol and oxycodone). In PMs for CYP2D6, reduced analgesic effects have been observed, whereas in UMs cases of life-threatening toxicity have been reported with tramadol and codeine. CYP2D6 PM phenotype has been associated with an increased risk of toxicity of metoprolol, timolol, carvedilol and propafenone. Although conflicting results have been reported regarding the association between CYP2D6 genotype and tamoxifen effects, CYP2D6 genotyping may be useful in selecting adjuvant hormonal therapy in postmenopausal women. CYP2C19 is responsible for metabolising clopidogrel, proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) and some antidepressants. Carriers of CYP2C19 variant alleles exhibit a reduced capacity to produce the active metabolite of clopidogrel, and are at increased risk of adverse cardiovascular events. For PPIs, it has been shown that the mean intragastric pH values and the Helicobacter pylori eradication rates were higher in carriers of CYP2C19 variant alleles. CYP2C19 is involved in the metabolism of several antidepressants. As a result of an increased risk of adverse effects in CYP2C19 PMs, dose reductions are recommended for some agents (imipramine, sertraline). CYP2C9 is responsible for metabolising vitamin K antagonists (VKAs), non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), sulfonylureas, angiotensin II receptor antagonists and phenytoin. For VKAs, CYP2C9 polymorphism has been associated with lower doses, longer time to reach treatment stability and higher frequencies of supratherapeutic international normalised ratios (INRs). Prescribing algorithms are available in order to adapt dosing to genotype. Although the existing data are controversial, some studies have suggested an increased risk of NSAID-associated gastrointestinal bleeding in carriers of CYP2C9 variant alleles. A relationship between CYP2C9 polymorphisms and the pharmacokinetics of sulfonylureas and angiotensin II receptor antagonists has also been observed. The clinical impact in terms of hypoglycaemia and blood pressure was, however, modest. Finally, homozygous and heterozygous carriers of CYP2C9 variant alleles require lower doses of phenytoin to reach therapeutic plasma concentrations, and are at increased risk of toxicity. New diagnostic techniques made safer and easier should allow quicker diagnosis of metabolic variations. Genotyping and phenotyping may therefore be considered where dosing guidelines according to CYP genotype have been published, and help identify the right molecule for the right patient.