Plant genomes are larger and more complex than other eukaryotic organisms, due to small and large duplication events, recombination and subsequent reorganization of the genetic material. Commercially important cotton is the result of a polyploidization event between Old and New World cottons that occurred over one million years ago. Allotetraploid cotton has properties that are dramatically different from its progenitors-most notably, the presence of long, spinnable fibers. Recently, the complete genome of a New World cotton ancestral species, Gossypium raimondii, was completed. Future genome sequencing efforts are focusing on an Old World progenitor, G. arboreum. This sequence information will enable us to gain insights into the evolution of the cotton genome that may be used to understand the evolution of other plant species. The chloroplast genomes of multiple cotton species and races have been determined. This information has also been used to gain insight into the evolutionary history of cotton. Analysis of the database of nuclear and organellar sequences will facilitate the identification of potential genes of interest and subsequent development of strategies for improving cotton.