Early biochemical experiments measuring nearest neighbor frequencies established that the set of dinucleotide relative abundance values (dinucleotide biases) is a remarkably stable property of the DNA of an organism. Analyses of currently available genomic sequence data have extended these earlier results, showing that the dinucleotide biases evaluated for successive 50 kb segments of a genome are significantly more similar to each other than to those of sequences from more distant organisms. From this perspective, the set of dinucleotide biases constitutes a 'genomic signature' that can discriminate sequences from different organisms. The dinucleotide biases appear to reflect species-specific properties of DNA stacking energies, modification, replication, and repair mechanisms. The genomic signature is useful for detecting pathogenicity islands in bacterial genomes.