Raw sequence data representing the majority of a bacterial genome can be obtained at a tiny fraction of the cost of a completed sequence. To demonstrate the utility of such a resource, 870 single-stranded M13 clones were sequenced from a shotgun library of the Salmonella typhi Ty2 genome. The sequence reads averaged over 400 bases and sampled the genome with an average spacing of once every 5,000 bases. A total of 339,243 bases of unique sequence was generated (approximately 7% representation). The sample of 870 sequences was compared to the complete Escherichia coli K-12 genome and to the rest of the GenBank database, which can also be considered a collection of sampled sequences. Despite the incomplete S. typhi data set, interesting categories could easily be discerned. Sixteen percent of the sequences determined from S. typhi had close homologs among known Salmonella sequences (P < 1e-40 in BlastX or BlastN), reflecting the proportion of these genomes that have been sequenced previously; 277 sequences (32%) had no apparent orthologs in the complete E. coli K-12 genome (P > 1e-20), of which 155 sequences (18%) had no close similarities to any sequence in the database (P > 1e-5). Eight of the 277 sequences had similarities to genes in other strains of E. coli or plasmids, and six sequences showed evidence of novel phage lysogens or sequence remnants of phage integrations, including a member of the lambda family (P < 1e-15). Twenty-three sample sequences had a significantly closer similarity a sequence in the database from organisms other than the E. coli/Salmonella clade (which includes Shigella and Citrobacter). These sequences are new candidate lateral transfer events to the S. typhi lineage or deletions on the E. coli K-12 lineage. Eleven putative junctions of insertion/deletion events greater than 100 bp were observed in the sample, indicating that well over 150 such events may distinguish S. typhi from E. coli K-12. The need for automatic methods to more effectively exploit sample sequences is discussed.