Whole-exome sequencing (WES) represents a significant breakthrough in the field of human genetics. This technology has largely contributed to the identification of new disease-causing genes and is now entering clinical laboratories. WES represents a powerful tool for diagnosis and could reduce the ‘diagnostic odyssey’ for many patients. In this review, we present a technical overview of WES analysis, variants annotation and interpretation in a clinical setting. We evaluate the usefulness of clinical WES in different clinical indications, such as rare diseases, cancer and complex diseases. Finally, we discuss the efficacy of WES as a diagnostic tool and the impact on patient management.