Grasses provide the bulk of human calories but improvement in grass yields is hindered by the characteristically large and complex genomes of these species; the genomes of wheat, maize, and sugar cane are 17,000, 2300, and 10,000 Mb, respectively. Brachypodium distachyon has one of the smallest genomes of all grasses at 272 Mb, and a number of key traits that make it a good model grass. Brachypodium was the fourth sequenced grass genome, after rice, Sorghum, and maize, and was the first sequenced in the Pooideae subfamily, a diverse group that includes wheat, barley, oat, and rye. The Brachypodium genome was sequenced using a whole genome shotgun approach with Sanger sequencing and is nearly complete with 99.6 % of the sequences anchored to five chromosomes. Sequencing of Brachypodium enabled comparative genomic analysis of grass genomes and shed light on processes involved in chromosome fusions and maintenance of a small genome. The high-quality Brachypodium genome sequence provides a framework for gene expression atlases, resequencing, quantitative trait loci (QTL) mapping, GWAS, and ENCODE datasets. The wealth of Brachypodium genomic resources have cemented its utility as a model organism and will facilitate translational work for improving the grasses that feed the world.