Barley (Hordeum vulgare L.) is one of the most important large-genome cereals with extensive genetic resources available in the public sector. Studies of genome organization in barley have been limited primarily to genetic markers and sparse sequence data. Here we report sequence analysis of 417.5 kb DNA from four BAC clones from different genomic locations. Sequences were analyzed with respect to gene content, the arrangement of repetitive sequences and the relationship of gene density to recombination frequencies. Gene densities ranged from 1 gene per 12 kb to 1 gene per 103 kb with an average of 1 gene per 21 kb. In general, genes were organized into islands separated by large blocks of nested retrotransposons. Single genes in apparent isolation were also found. Genes occupied 11% of the total sequence, LTR retrotransposons and other repeated elements accounted for 51.9% and the remaining 37.1% could not be annotated.