The promise of personalized medicine depends on the ability to integrate genetic sequencing information into disease risk assessment for individuals. As genomic sequencing technology enters the realm of clinical care, its scale necessitates answers to key social and behavioral research questions about the complexities of understanding, communicating, and ultimately using sequence information to improve health. Our study captured the motivations and expectations of research participants who consented to participate in a research protocol, ClinSeq, which offers to return a subset of the data generated through high-throughput sequencing. We present findings from an exploratory study of 322 participants, most of whom identified themselves as white, non-Hispanic, and coming from higher socio-economic groups. Participants aged 45-65 years answered open-ended questions about the reasons they consented to ClinSeq and about what they anticipated would come of genomic sequencing. Two main reasons for participating were as follows: a conviction to altruism in promoting research, and a desire to learn more about genetic factors that contribute to one's own health risk. Overall, participants expected genomic research to help improve understanding of disease causes and treatments. Our findings offer a first glimpse into the motivations and expectations of individuals seeking their own genomic information, and provide initial insights into the value these early adopters of technology place on information generated by high-throughput sequencing studies.