Crustacea, the subphylum of Arthropoda which dominates the aquatic environment, is of major importance in ecology and fisheries. Here we report the genome sequence of the Pacific white shrimp Litopenaeus vannamei, covering ~1.66 Gb (scaffold N50 605.56 Kb) with 25,596 protein-coding genes and a high proportion of simple sequence repeats (>23.93%). The expansion of genes related to vision and locomotion is probably central to its benthic adaptation. Frequent molting of the shrimp may be explained by an intensified ecdysone signal pathway through gene expansion and positive selection. As an important aquaculture organism, L. vannamei has been subjected to high selection pressure during the past 30 years of breeding, and this has had a considerable impact on its genome. Decoding the L. vannamei genome not only provides an insight into the genetic underpinnings of specific biological processes, but also provides valuable information for enhancing crustacean aquaculture.