Psoriasis vulgaris is a chronic, debilitating skin disease that affects millions of people worldwide. There is no mouse model that accurately reproduces all facets of the disease, but the accessibility of skin tissue from patients has facilitated the elucidation of many pathways involved in the pathogenesis of psoriasis and highlighted the importance of the immune system in the disease. The pathophysiological relevance of these findings has been supported by genetic studies that identified polymorphisms in genes associated with NFκB activation, IL-23 signaling and T helper 17 (Th17)-cell adaptive immune responses, and in genes associated with the epidermal barrier. Recently developed biologic agents that selectively target specific components of the immune system are highly effective for treating psoriasis. In particular, emerging therapeutics are focused on targeting the IL-23–Th17-cell axis, and several agents that block IL-17 signaling have shown promising results in early-phase clinical trials. This review discusses lessons learned about the pathogenesis of psoriasis from mouse-and patient-based studies, emphasizing how the outcomes of clinical trials with T-cell-targeted and cytokine-blocking therapies have clarified our understanding of the disease.