Neisseria meningitidis causes bacterial meningitis and is therefore responsible for considerable morbidity and mortality in both the developed and the developing world. Meningococci are opportunistic pathogens that colonize the nasopharynges and oropharynges of asymptomatic carriers. For reasons that are still mostly unknown, they occasionally gain access to the blood, and subsequently to the cerebrospinal fluid, to cause septicaemia and meningitis. N. meningitidis strains are divided into a number of serogroups on the basis of the immunochemistry of their capsular polysaccharides; serogroup A strains are responsible for major epidemics and pandemics of meningococcal disease, and therefore most of the morbidity and mortality associated with this disease. Here we have determined the complete genome sequence of a serogroup A strain of Neisseria meningitidis, Z2491. The sequence is 2,184,406 base pairs in length, with an overall G+C content of 51.8%, and contains 2,121 predicted coding sequences. The most notable feature of the genome is the presence of many hundreds of repetitive elements, ranging from short repeats, positioned either singly or in large multiple arrays, to insertion sequences and gene duplications of one kilobase or more. Many of these repeats appear to be involved in genome fluidity and antigenic variation in this important human pathogen.