DNA assembly is the key technology of the emerging interdisciplinary field of synthetic biology. While the assembly of smaller DNA fragments is usually performed in vitro, high molecular weight DNA molecules are assembled in vivo via homologous recombination in the host cell. Escherichia coli, Bacillus subtilis and Saccharomyces cerevisiae are the main hosts used for DNA assembly in vivo. Progress in DNA assembly over the last few years has paved the way for the construction of whole genomes. This review provides an update on recent synthetic biology advances with particular emphasis on high molecular weight DNA assembly in vivo in E. coli, B. subtilis and S. cerevisiae. Special attention is paid to the assembly of whole genomes, such as those of the first synthetic cell, synthetic yeast and minimal genomes.