Hyperactivity of central neuropeptidergic circuits such as the corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH) and vasopressin (AVP) neuronal systems is thought to play a causal role in the etiology and symptomatology of anxiety disorders. Indeed, there is increasing evidence from basic science that chronic stress-induced perturbation of CRH and AVP neurocircuitries may contribute to abnormal neuronal communication in conditions of pathological anxiety. Anxiety disorders aggregate in families, and accumulating evidence supports the notion that the major source of familial risk is genetic. In this context, refined molecular technologies and the creation of genetically engineered mice have allowed us to specifically target individual genes involved in the regulation of the elements of the CRH (e.g., CRH peptides, CRH-related peptides, their receptors, binding protein). During the past few years, studies performed in such mice have complemented and extended our knowledge. The cumulative evidence makes a strong case implicating dysfunction of CRH-related systems in the pathogenesis of anxiety disorders and depression and leads us beyond the monoaminergic synapse in search of eagerly anticipated strategies to discover and develop better therapies.