Translocations are being increasingly proposed as a way of conserving biodiversity, particularly in the management of threatened and keystone species, with the aims of maintaining biodiversity and ecosystem function under the combined pressures of habitat fragmentation and climate change. Evolutionary genetic considerations should be an important part of translocation strategies, but there is often confusion about concepts and goals. Here, we provide a classification of translocations based on specific genetic goals for both threatened species and ecological restoration, separating targets based on 'genetic rescue' of current population fitness from those focused on maintaining adaptive potential. We then provide a framework for assessing the genetic benefits and risks associated with translocations and provide guidelines for managers focused on conserving biodiversity and evolutionary processes. Case studies are developed to illustrate the framework.