The genetic code epitomises simplicity, near universality and absolute predictive power. By contrast, epigenetic information, in the form of histone modifications, is characterised by complexity, diversity and an overall tendency to respond to changes in genomic function rather than to predict them. Perhaps the transient changes in histone modifications involved in intranuclear signalling and ongoing chromatin functions mask stable, predictive modifications that lie beneath. The current rapid progress in unravelling the diversity and complexity of epigenetic information might eventually reveal an underlying histone or epigenetic code. But whether it does or not, it will certainly provide unprecedented opportunities, both for understanding how the genome responds to environmental and metabolic change and for manipulating its activities for experimental and therapeutic benefit.