Most biological traits of human importance are complex in nature; their manifestation controlled by the cumulative effect of many genetic factors interacting with one another and with the individual's life history. Because of this, mouse genetic reference populations (GRPs) consisting of collections of inbred lines or recombinant inbred lines (RIL) derived from crosses between inbred lines are of particular value in analysis of complex traits, since massive amounts of data can be accumulated on the individual lines. However, existing mouse GRPs are derived from inbred lines that share a common history, resulting in limited genetic diversity, and reduced mapping precision due to long-range gametic disequilibrium. To overcome these limitations, the Collaborative Cross (CC) a genetically highly diverse collection of mouse RIL was established. The CC, now in advanced stages of development, will eventually consist of about 500 RIL derived from reciprocal crosses of eight divergent founder strains of mice, including three wild subspecies. Previous studies have shown that the CC indeed contains enormous diversity at the DNA level, that founder haplotypes are inherited in expected frequency, and that long-range gametic disequilibrium is not present. We here present data, primarily from our own laboratory, documenting extensive genetic variation among CC lines as expressed in broad-sense heritability (H2) and by the well-known "coefficient of genetic variation," demonstrating the ability of the CC resource to provide unprecedented mapping precision leading to identification of strong candidate genes.