More than 300 bacterial genome sequences are publicly available, and many more are scheduled to be completed and released in the near future. Converting this raw sequence information into a better understanding of the biology of bacteria involves the identification and annotation of genes, proteins and pathways. This processing is typically done using sequence annotation pipelines comprised of a variety of software modules and, in some cases, human experts. The reference databases, computational methods and knowledge that form the basis of these pipelines are constantly evolving, and thus there is a need to reprocess genome annotations on a regular basis. The combined challenge of revising existing annotations and extracting useful information from the flood of new genome sequences will necessitate more reliance on completely automated systems.