Somatic mutations occur spontaneously in normal individuals and accumulate throughout life. These genetic modifications contribute to progressive ageing phenotypes and are directly involved in cancer development. However, a growing number of studies of Mendelian haematopoietic disorders indicate that somatic genetic events can offset the pathogenic effect of germline mutations at the cellular level, leading to genetic mosaicism and, in some cases, resulting in a milder disease phenotype. Notably, spontaneous genetic events that confer a positive effect on cells do not always benefit the individual, for whom the effects can be neutral or even clinically detrimental. These somatic genetic rescue events have important diagnostic, therapeutic and clinical consequences and constitute valuable models for studying the differentiation and/or homeostasis of haematopoietic lineages.