Genome evolution studies for the phylum Nematoda have been limited by focusing on comparisons involving Caenorhabditis elegans. We report a draft genome sequence of Trichinella spiralis, a food-borne zoonotic parasite, which is the most common cause of human trichinellosis. This parasitic nematode is an extant member of a clade that diverged early in the evolution of the phylum, enabling identification of archetypical genes and molecular signatures exclusive to nematodes. We sequenced the 64-Mb nuclear genome, which is estimated to contain 15,808 protein-coding genes, at ∼35-fold coverage using whole-genome shotgun and hierarchal map-assisted sequencing. Comparative genome analyses support intrachromosomal rearrangements across the phylum, disproportionate numbers of protein family deaths over births in parasitic compared to a non-parasitic nematode and a preponderance of gene-loss and -gain events in nematodes relative to Drosophila melanogaster. This genome sequence and the identified pan-phylum characteristics will contribute to genome evolution studies of Nematoda as well as strategies to combat global parasites of humans, food animals and crops.