Aims: While the role of bacteria in the initiation of periodontitis is primary, a range of host-related factors influence the onset, clinical presentation and rate of progression of disease. The objectives of this review are (1) to present evidence for individual predictive factors associated with a patient's susceptibility to progression of periodontitis and (2) to describe the use of prognostic models aimed at identifying high-risk groups and individuals in a clinical setting.Methods: Relevant publications in the English language were identified after Medline and PubMed database searches. Because of a paucity of longitudinal studies investigating factors including clinical, demographic, environmental, behavioural, psychosocial, genetic, systemic and microbiologic parameters to identify individuals at risk for disease progression, some association studies were also included in this review.Findings and Conclusions: Cigarette smoking is a strong predictor of progressive periodontitis, the effect of which is dose related. High levels of specific bacteria have been predictive of progressive periodontitis in some studies but not all. Diabetics with poor glycaemic control have an increased risk for progression of periodontitis. The evidence for the effect of a number of putative factors including interleukin-1 genotype, osteoporosis and psychosocial factors is inconclusive and requires further investigation in prospective longitudinal studies. Specific and sensitive diagnostic tests for the identification of individuals susceptible to disease progression are not yet a reality. While factors assessed independently may not be valuable in predicting risk of future attachment loss, the combination of factors in a multifactorial model may be useful in identifying individuals at risk for disease progression. A number of multifactorial models for risk assessment, at a subject level have been developed but require validation in prospective longitudinal studies.