The genome sequence of the free-living nematode Caenorhabiditis elegans is nearly complete, with resolution of the final difficult regions expected over the next few months. This will represent the first genome of a multicellular organism to be sequenced to completion. The genome is approximately 97 Mb in total, and encodes more than 19 099 proteins, considerably more than expected before sequencing began. The sequencing project - a collaboration between the Genome Sequencing Center in St Louis and the Sanger Centre in Hinxton - has lasted eight years, with the majority of the sequence generated in the past four years. Analysis of the genome sequence is just beginning and represents an effort that will undoubtedly last more than another decade. However, some interesting findings are already apparent, indicating that the scope of the project, the approach taken, and the usefulness of having the genetic blueprint for this small organism have been well worth the effort.