Chromosome 19 has the highest gene density of all human chromosomes, more than double the genome-wide average. The large clustered gene families, corresponding high G+C content, CpG islands and density of repetitive DNA indicate a chromosome rich in biological and evolutionary significance. Here we describe 55.8 million base pairs of highly accurate finished sequence representing 99.9% of the euchromatin portion of the chromosome. Manual curation of gene loci reveals 1,461 protein-coding genes and 321 pseudogenes. Among these are genes directly implicated in mendelian disorders, including familial hypercholesterolaemia and insulin-resistant diabetes. Nearly one-quarter of these genes belong to tandemly arranged families, encompassing more than 25% of the chromosome. Comparative analyses show a fascinating picture of conservation and divergence, revealing large blocks of gene orthology with rodents, scattered regions with more recent gene family expansions and deletions, and segments of coding and non-coding conservation with the distant fish species Takifugu.