PURPOSE: Myopia is considered to be a complex disease involving both environmental and genetic factors. The Genes in Myopia (GEM) Study aims to recruit probands with myopia and their family members to allow genetic analysis of myopia to be undertaken. The purpose of this paper is to describe the methodology and recruitment of probands and families for the GEM Study. METHODS: In a sample-based prospective study, 2,095 probands with myopia of -0.50 DS or worse and a positive family history of myopia were contacted via the Melbourne Excimer Laser Group (MELG) database. Probands and family members recruited into the study undertook a detailed assessment including questionnaire, best-corrected visual acuity, objective and subjective refraction, axial length, anterior chamber depth, keratometry readings, slit-lamp examination, height, weight and head circumference measurements, and blood sample collection for DNA analysis. RESULTS: 280 probands with myopia have been recruited into the GEM Study. Probands had a mean age of 49.33 yrs. (SD +/- 11.64) with the average age of myopia onset being 12.58 years (SD +/- 6.71). The average spherical-component refractive error was: right eye -5.13 DS (SD +/- 3.06) and left eye -5.14 DS (SD +/- 3.16). Probands with extreme myopia (-10 DS or worse) showed the highest study participation rate of 56%, when compared to high (-5 DS < -10 DS) (20%), moderate (-3 DS < - 5 DS) (18%) and low myopia (-0.5 DS < -3 DS) (10%). A total of 279 out of 505 (55%) additional family members recruited were also found to be myopic. CONCLUSIONS: The GEM study has used a targeted approach to identify an Australian cohort with a diverse spread of myopia, ranging from low to extreme. Recruitment of probands via the use of an excimer laser practice has proved to be an efficient and economic means of identifying probands with a family history of myopia. In addition, the participation rate in the study appears to vary reflecting a proband's perception of disease severity.