The non-coding part of our genome contains sequence motifs that can control gene transcription over distance. Here, we discuss functional genomics studies that uncover and characterize these sequences across the mammalian genome. The picture emerging is of a genome being a complex regulatory landscape. We explore the principles that underlie the wiring of regulatory DNA sequences and genes. We argue transcriptional control over distance can be understood when considering action in the context of the folded genome. Genome topology is expected to differ between individual cells, and this may cause variegated expression. High-resolution three-dimensional genome topology maps, ultimately of single cells, are required to understand the cis-regulatory networks that underlie cellular transcriptomes.