The Ensembl (http://www.ensembl.org/) database project provides a bioinformatics framework to organize biology around the sequences of large genomes. It is a comprehensive and integrated source of annotation of large genome sequences, available via interactive website, web services or flat files. 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. The facilities of the system range from sequence analysis to data storage and visualization and installations exist around the world both in companies and at academic sites. With a total of nine genome sequences available from Ensembl and more genomes to follow, recent developments have focused mainly on closer integration between genomes and external data.