The introduction of methods for automated DNA sequence analysis nearly a decade ago, together with more recent advances in the field of bioinformatics, have revolutionized biology and medicine and have ushered in a new era of genomic science, the study of genes and genomes. These new technologies have had an impact on many areas of research, including the association between genes and disease, in DNA-based diagnostics, and in the sequencing of genomes from human and other model organisms. The demonstration in 1995, that automated DNA sequencing methods could be used to decipher the entire genome sequence of a free-living organism, Haemophilus influenzae, was a milestone in both the genomics and microbial fields . Since the first report of the complete sequence of H. influenzae, these methodologies have been adopted by laboratories around the world. The complete genomic sequence of five eubacterial species [1-5], one archaea , and the eukaryote, Saccharomyces cerevisiae , have been reported in the last 18 months. At the beginning of 1997 more than a dozen microbial genome projects are at or near completion, with many others in progress. It is likely that in the next few years we will see the complete sequence of perhaps as many as 30-40 microbial genomes. In this article, we will review methods for whole genome sequencing and analysis and examine how this information can be exploited to better understand microbial physiology and evolution.