Enormous sequence information is available in public databases as a result of sequencing of diverse crop genomes. It is important to use this genomic information for the identification and isolation of novel and superior alleles of agronomically important genes from crop gene pools to suitably deploy for the development of improved cultivars. Allele mining is a promising approach to dissect naturally occurring allelic variation at candidate genes controlling key agronomic traits which has potential applications in crop improvement programs. It helps in tracing the evolution of alleles, identification of new haplotypes and development of allele-specific markers for use in marker-assisted selection. Realizing the immense potential of allele mining, concerted allele mining efforts are underway in many international crop research institutes. This review examines the concepts, approaches and applications of allele mining along with the challenges associated while emphasizing the need for more refined 'mining' strategies for accelerating the process of allele discovery and its utilization in molecular breeding.