Forward genetics is a powerful approach to understand the molecular basis of animal behaviors. Fruit flies were the first animal to which this genetic approach was applied systematically and have provided major discoveries on behaviors including sexual, learning, circadian, and sleep-like behaviors. The development of different classes of model organism such as nematodes, zebrafish, and mice has enabled genetic research to be conducted using more-suitable organisms. The unprecedented success of forward genetic approaches was the identification of the transcription-translation negative feedback loop composed of clock genes as a fundamental and conserved mechanism of circadian rhythm. This approach has now expanded to sleep/wakefulness in mice. A conventional strategy such as dominant and recessive screenings can be modified with advances in DNA sequencing and genome editing technologies.