Soil salinity is a major constraint to agriculture. To improve salinity tolerance of crops, various traits can be incorporated, including ion exclusion, osmotic tolerance and tissue tolerance. We review the roles of a range of genes involved in salt tolerance traits. Different tissues and cells are adapted for specific and often diverse function, so it is important to express the genes in specific cell-types and to pyramid a range of traits. Modern biotechnology (marker-assisted selection or genetic engineering) needs to be increasingly used to introduce the correct combination of genes into elite crop cultivars. Importantly, the effects of introduced genes need to be evaluated in the field to determine their effect on salinity tolerance and yield improvement.