Since the first investigation 25 years ago, the application of genetic tools to address ecological and evolutionary questions in elasmobranch studies has greatly expanded. Major developments in genetic theory as well as in the availability, cost effectiveness and resolution of genetic markers were instrumental for particularly rapid progress over the last 10 years. Genetic studies of elasmobranchs are of direct importance and have application to fisheries management and conservation issues such as the definition of management units and identification of species from fins. In the future, increased application of the most recent and emerging technologies will enable accelerated genetic data production and the development of new markers at reduced costs, paving the way for a paradigm shift from gene to genome-scale research, and more focus on adaptive rather than just neutral variation. Current literature is reviewed in six fields of elasmobranch molecular genetics relevant to fisheries and conservation management (species identification, phylogeography, philopatry, genetic effective population size, molecular evolutionary rate and emerging methods). Where possible, examples from the Indo-Pacific region, which has been underrepresented in previous reviews, are emphasized within a global perspective.