DNA sequencing can be used to gain important information on genes, genetic variation and gene function for biological and medical studies. The growing collection of publicly available reference genome sequences will underpin a new era of whole genome re-sequencing, but sequencing costs need to fall and throughput needs to rise by several orders of magnitude. Novel technologies are being developed to meet this need by generating massive amounts of sequence that can be aligned to the reference sequence. The challenge is to maintain the high standards of accuracy and completeness that are hallmarks of the previous genome projects. One or more new sequencing technologies are expected to become the mainstay of future research, and to make DNA sequencing centre stage as a routine tool in genetic research in the coming years.