This paper consists of two components: the use of gene encyclopedias in genomic studies and Rhodobacter capsulatus genome project. A survey of vectors used for encyclopedia construction includes a brief discussion of their relative advantages and limitations. Projects employing various methods of encyclopedia assembly including the comparison of restriction patterns, restriction maps, linking by hybridization, oligonucleotide fingerprinting, sequence tagged site (STS) fingerprinting and encyclopedias derived from genetic maps are listed and briefly described. The R. capsulatus SB 1003 genome project started with the construction of its cosmid encyclopedia, which comprises 192 cosmids covering the chromosome and the 134 kbp plasmid in strain SB 1003, with the exact map coordinates of each cosmid. In a pilot sequencing study, several cosmids were individually subcloned using the vector M13mp18 and merged into one 189 kbp contig. About 160 open reading frames (ORFs) identified by the CodonUse program were subjected to similarity searches. The biological functions of eighty ORFs could be assigned reliably using the WIT (what is there) genome investigation environment. Eighty percent of these recognizable ORFs were organized in functional clusters, which simplified assignment decisions and increased the strength of the predictions. A set of 26 genes for cobalamin biosynthesis, genes for polyhydroxyalkanoic acid metabolism, DNA replication and recombination, and DNA gyrase were among those identified. Recently, another 1.2 Mbp genome fragment of the Rhodobacter genome was sequenced using a slightly modified approach. These results together with some genome investigation tools, have been placed at our web site (http://capsulapedia.uchicago.edu). The sequence of R. capsulatus is expected to be completed by summer 1998. A project to construct a systematic set of deletion strains of R. capsulatus in order to assign functions to unknown ORFs has been started. Preliminary data demonstrate the extreme convenience of the unique gene transfer agent (GTA) system to perform such work.