Objectives: To examine the opportunities for and responsibilities of the public health community in bridging the gap between gene discovery and the application of genetic information to improve health and prevent disease. Methods: We developed genetics-related definitions for the core functions and essential services of public health. We combined these definitions with a visual model to create one possible ‘blueprint’ for integrating genomics into public health activities. Results: The proposed blueprint and accompanying examples illustrate the important role for genomics throughout public health research, policy and practice. Further refinement and implementation of this blueprint represents an ambitious public health leadership agenda. Conclusions: Opportunities for immediate action include strategic planning for the integration of genomics across programs, developing genomics competencies among health professionals, enhancing surveillance and epidemiologic capacity to aid evidence-based policy making, building partnerships and seeking input from stakeholders and incorporating information about genomics into health communications.