The genomes of placental mammals are being sequenced at an unprecedented rate. Alignments of hundreds, and one day thousands, of genomes spanning the rich living and extinct diversity of species offer unparalleled power to resolve phylogenetic controversies, identify genomic innovations of adaptation, and dissect the genetic architecture of reproductive isolation. We highlight outstanding questions about the earliest phases of placental mammal diversification and the promise of newer methods, as well as remaining challenges, toward using whole genome data to resolve placental mammal phylogeny. The next phase of mammalian comparative genomics will see the completion and application of finished-quality, gapless genome assemblies from many ordinal lineages and closely related species. Interspecific comparisons between the most hypervariable genomic loci will likely reveal large, but heretofore mostly underappreciated, effects on population divergence, morphological innovation, and the origin of new species.