Tribolium castaneum is a representative of earth’s most numerous eukaryotic order, a powerful model organism for the study of generalized insect development, and also an important pest of stored agricultural products. We describe its genome sequence here. This omnivorous beetle has evolved an ability to interact with a diverse chemical environment as evidenced by large expansions in odorant and gustatory receptors, as well as p450 and other detoxification enzymes. Developmental patterns in Tribolium are more representative of other arthropods than those found in Drosophila, a fact represented in gene content and function. For one, Tribolium has retained more ancestral genes involved in cell-cell communication than Drosophila, and some are expressed in the growth zone crucial for axial elongation in short germ development. Systemic RNAi in T. castaneum appears to use mechanisms distinct from those found in C. elegans, but nevertheless offers similar power for the elucidation of gene function and identification of targets for selective insect control.