The main commercial species are the black currant (R. nigrum), red currant (R. rubrum, R. sativum [R. rubrum] and R. petraeum) and gooseberry (R. grossularia [R. uva-crispa]). Their worldwide production and nutritive value is surveyed. The main factors which could be improved by breeding are considered to be spring frost susceptibility, premature fruit drop, poor winter hardiness, plant habit, susceptibility to pests and diseases, and fruit and juice quality. The genetic diversity available for breeding programmes is examined with reference to the taxonomy of the genus, species distribution and endangered species. Interspecific hybridization has also served to enlarge the gene pool. The genetic resources, both wild and cultivated, which exist to solve the main problems noted above are detailed. Efforts to conserve Ribes germplasm are indicated.