Bacillus subtilis is a remarkably diverse bacterial species that is capable of growth within many environments. Recent microarray-based comparative genomic analyses have revealed that members of this species also exhibit considerable genomic diversity. The identification of strain-specific genes might explain how B. subtilis has become so broadly adapted. The goal of identifying ecologically adaptive genes could soon be realized with the imminent release of several new B. subtilis genome sequences. As we embark upon this exciting new era of B. subtilis comparative genomics we review what is currently known about the ecology and evolution of this species.