Cucumber is an economically important crop as well as a model system for sex determination studies and plant vascular biology. Here we report the draft genome sequence of Cucumis sativus var. sativus L., assembled using a novel combination of traditional Sanger and next-generation Illumina GA sequencing technologies to obtain 72.2-fold genome coverage. The absence of recent whole-genome duplication, along with the presence of few tandem duplications, explains the small number of genes in the cucumber. Our study establishes that five of the cucumber's seven chromosomes arose from fusions of ten ancestral chromosomes after divergence from Cucumis melo. The sequenced cucumber genome affords insight into traits such as its sex expression, disease resistance, biosynthesis of cucurbitacin and 'fresh green' odor. We also identify 686 gene clusters related to phloem function. The cucumber genome provides a valuable resource for developing elite cultivars and for studying the evolution and function of the plant vascular system.