The genus Lactobacillus is a diverse group that includes many species used in food production and preservation. Some lactobacilli are considered probiotic, conferring health benefits upon the host. The heterogeneity of this genus poses challenges and opportunities when characterizing or exploiting individual strains. To date, 10 Lactobacillus genome sequences have been published, and at least 11 more sequencing projects are ongoing. These studies will dramatically improve one's understanding of metabolic processes, bioprocessing capabilities and potential roles in health and well-being of the Lactobacilli. This review describes the current status of Lactobacillus genome sequence projects, highlights the major findings and summarizes functional genomics or comparative genomics studies. The genomic basis for the unusual diversity of this genus is discussed, and the potential for comparative genomics to rigorously extend phylogenetic analysis of the Lactobacilli is described.