Rational classification of proteins encoded in sequenced genomes is critical for making the genome sequences maximally useful for functional and evolutionary studies. The database of Clusters of Orthologous Groups of proteins (COGs) is an attempt on a phylogenetic classification of the proteins encoded in 21 complete genomes of bacteria, archaea and eukaryotes (http://www. ncbi.nlm. nih.gov/COG). The COGs were constructed by applying the criterion of consistency of genome-specific best hits to the results of an exhaustive comparison of all protein sequences from these genomes. The database comprises 2091 COGs that include 56-83% of the gene products from each of the complete bacterial and archaeal genomes and approximately 35% of those from the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae genome. The COG database is accompanied by the COGNITOR program that is used to fit new proteins into the COGs and can be applied to functional and phylogenetic annotation of newly sequenced genomes.