With a size approximating that of the human genome, the maize genome is about to become the largest plant genome yet sequenced. Contributing to that size are a whole-genome duplication event and a retrotransposition explosion that produced a large amount of repetitive DNA. This DNA is greatly under-represented in cDNA collections, so analysis of the maize transcriptome has been an expedient way of assessing the gene content of maize. Over 2 million maize cDNA sequences are now available, making maize the third most widely studied organism, behind mouse and man. To date, the sequencing of large-sized DNA clones has been largely driven by the genetic interests of different investigators. The recent construction of a physical map that is anchored to the genetic map will aid immensely in the maize genome-sequencing effort. However, studies showing that the repetitive DNA component is highly polymorphic among maize inbred lines point to the need to sample vertically a few specific regions of the genome to evaluate the extent and importance of this variability.