Members of the Bacillus cereus group of organisms include Bacillus cereus, Bacillus anthracis and Bacillus thuringiensis. Collectively, these organisms represent microbes of high economic, medical and biodefense importance. Given this significance, this group contains the highest number of closely related fully sequenced genomes, giving the unique opportunity for thorough comparative genomic analyses. Much of the disease and host specificity of members of this group can be attributed to their plasmids, which vary in size and number. Chromosomes exhibit a high level of synteny and protein similarity, with limited differences in gene content, questioning the speciation of the group members. Genomic data have spurred functional studies that combined microarrays and proteomics. Recent advances are reviewed in this article and highlight the advantages of genomic approaches to the study of this important group of bacteria.