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CODIS generates investigative leads in crimes where biological evidence is recovered from the crime scene using two indexes: the forensic and offender indexes.

The Forensic Index contains DNA profiles from crime scene evidence.

The Offender Index contains DNA profiles of individuals convicted of sex offenses (and other violent crimes) with many states now expanding legislation to include other felonies.

Matches made among profiles in the Forensic Index can link crime scenes together; possibly identifying serial offenders. Based on a match, police in multiple jurisdictions can coordinate their respective investigations, and share the leads they developed independently. Matches made between the Forensic and Offender indexes provide investigators with the identity of the perpetrator(s). After CODIS identifies a potential match, qualified DNA analysts in the laboratories contact each other to validate or refute the match.

NDIS Profile Composition (as of August 2004)

Forensic Profiles in NDIS: 91,759

Convicted Offender Profiles in NDIS: 1,853,404