The study of ionising radiation has systematically relied on cytogenetic indicators to evaluate the biological effects and has led to theoretical approaches to explain observations associated with radiation exposure. In many of the early studies on radiobiology, the induction of chromosomal aberrations was the method of choice to evaluate dose-response relationships. But progressively, this and other cytogenetic biomarkers were used to obtain mechanistic insight on the biological effects induced by radiation. This paper attempts to give a view on the use of cytogenetic indicators in the study of various radiation-related phenomena, including radiation dosimetry, mechanisms involved in the various cellular responses to radiation, such as bystander effects, chromosomal instability and adaptive response, as well as DNA repair pathways. One future direction may involve the use of cytogenetic indicators to evaluate various molecular determinants in individuals' susceptibility to radiation, using other techniques such as fluorescence in situ hybridisation (FISH) and linking them to specific gene functions and single nucleotide polymorphisms.