The Ensembl (http://www.ensembl.org/) database project provides a bioinformatics framework to organise biology around the sequences of large genomes. It is a comprehensive source of stable automatic annotation of the human genome sequence, with confirmed gene predictions that have been integrated with external data sources, and is available as either an interactive web site or as flat files. It is also an open source software engineering project to develop a portable system able to handle very large genomes and associated requirements from sequence analysis to data storage and visualisation. The Ensembl site is one of the leading sources of human genome sequence annotation and provided much of the analysis for publication by the international human genome project of the draft genome. The Ensembl system is being installed around the world in both companies and academic sites on machines ranging from supercomputers to laptops.