Marine phages are the most abundant biological entities in the oceans. They play important roles in carbon cycling through marine food webs, gene transfer by transduction and conversion of hosts by lysogeny. The handful of marine phage genomes that have been sequenced to date, along with prophages in marine bacterial genomes, and partial sequencing of uncultivated phages are yielding glimpses of the tremendous diversity and physiological potential of the marine phage community. Common gene modules in diverse phages are providing the information necessary to make evolutionary comparisons. Finally, deciphering phage genomes is providing clues about the adaptive response of phages and their hosts to environmental cues.