Potato, a highly heterozygous tetraploid, is undergoing an exciting phase of genomics resource development. The potato research community has established extensive genomic resources, such as large expressed sequence tag (EST) data collections, microarrays and other expression profiling platforms, and large-insert genomic libraries. Moreover, potato will now benefit from a global potato physical mapping effort, which is serving as the underlying resource for a full potato genome sequencing project, now well underway. These tools and resources are having a major impact on potato breeding and genetics. The genome sequence will provide an invaluable comparative genomics resource for cross-referencing to the other Solanaceae, notably tomato, whose sequence is also being determined. Most importantly perhaps, a potato genome sequence will pave the way for the functional analysis of the large numbers of potato genes that await discovery. Potato, being easily transformable, is highly amenable to the investigation of gene function by biotechnological approaches. Recent advances in the development of Virus Induced Gene Silencing (VIGS) and related methods will facilitate rapid progress in the analysis of gene function in this important crop.