Grasses are the single most important plant family in agriculture. In the past years, comparative genetic mapping has revealed conserved gene order (colinearity) among many grass species. Recently, the first studies at gene level have demonstrated that microcolinearity of genes is less conserved: small scale rearrangements and deletions complicate the microcolinearity between closely related species, such as sorghum and maize, but also between rice and other crop plants. In spite of these problems, rice remains the model plant for grasses as there is limited useful colinearity between Arabidopsis and grasses. However, studies in rice have to be complemented by more intensive genetic work on grass species with large genomes (maize, Triticeae). Gene-rich chromosomal regions in species with large genomes, such as wheat, have a high gene density and are ideal targets for partial genome sequencing.