The Ensembl (http://www.ensembl.org/) database project provides a bioinformatics framework to organise biology around the sequences of large genomes. It is a comprehensive source of stable automatic annotation of human, mouse and other genome sequences, available as either an interactive web site or as flat files. Ensembl also integrates manually annotated gene structures from external sources where available. As well as being one of the leading sources of genome annotation, Ensembl is an open source software engineering project to develop a portable system able to handle very large genomes and associated requirements. These range from sequence analysis to data storage and visualisation and installations exist around the world in both companies and at academic sites. With both human and mouse genome sequences available and more vertebrate sequences to follow, many of the recent developments in Ensembl have focusing on developing automatic comparative genome analysis and visualisation.