One of the first genome sequencing projects for a parasitic nematode was that for Haemonchus contortus. The open access data from the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute provided a valuable early resource for the research community, particularly for the identification of specific genes and genetic markers. Later, a second sequencing project was initiated by the University of Melbourne, and the two draft genome sequences for H. contortus were published back-to-back in 2013. There is a pressing need for long-range genomic information for genetic mapping, population genetics and functional genomic studies, so we are continuing to improve the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute assembly to provide a finished reference genome for H. contortus. This review describes this process, compares the H. contortus genome assemblies with draft genomes from other members of the strongylid group and discusses future directions for parasite genomics using the H. contortus model.