Gastric cancer is a heterogeneous disease with multiple environmental etiologies and alternative pathways of carcinogenesis. Beyond mutations in TP53, alterations in other genes or pathways account for only small subsets of the disease. We performed exome sequencing of 22 gastric cancer samples and identified previously unreported mutated genes and pathway alterations; in particular, we found genes involved in chromatin modification to be commonly mutated. A downstream validation study confirmed frequent inactivating mutations or protein deficiency of ARID1A, which encodes a member of the SWI-SNF chromatin remodeling family, in 83% of gastric cancers with microsatellite instability (MSI), 73% of those with Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) infection and 11% of those that were not infected with EBV and microsatellite stable (MSS). The mutation spectrum for ARID1A differs between molecular subtypes of gastric cancer, and mutation prevalence is negatively associated with mutations in TP53. Clinically, ARID1A alterations were associated with better prognosis in a stage-independent manner. These results reveal the genomic landscape, and highlight the importance of chromatin remodeling, in the molecular taxonomy of gastric cancer.