Clostridium botulinum is a heterogeneous Gram-positive species that comprises four genetically and physiologically distinct groups of bacteria that share the ability to produce botulinum neurotoxin, the most poisonous toxin known to man, and the causative agent of botulism, a severe disease of humans and animals. We report here the complete genome sequence of a representative of Group I (proteolytic) C. botulinum (strain Hall A, ATCC 3502). The genome consists of a chromosome (3,886,916 bp) and a plasmid (16,344 bp), which carry 3650 and 19 predicted genes, respectively. Consistent with the proteolytic phenotype of this strain, the genome harbors a large number of genes encoding secreted proteases and enzymes involved in uptake and metabolism of amino acids. The genome also reveals a hitherto unknown ability of C. botulinum to degrade chitin. There is a significant lack of recently acquired DNA, indicating a stable genomic content, in strong contrast to the fluid genome of Clostridium difficile, which can form longer-term relationships with its host. Overall, the genome indicates that C. botulinum is adapted to a saprophytic lifestyle both in soil and aquatic environments. This pathogen relies on its toxin to rapidly kill a wide range of prey species, and to gain access to nutrient sources, it releases a large number of extracellular enzymes to soften and destroy rotting or decayed tissues.