Next generation sequencing (NGS) technologies are being used to generate whole genome sequences for a wide range of crop species. When combined with precise phenotyping methods, these technologies provide a powerful and rapid tool for identifying the genetic basis of agriculturally important traits and for predicting the breeding value of individuals in a plant breeding population. Here we summarize current trends and future prospects for utilizing NGS-based technologies to develop crops with improved trait performance and increase the efficiency of modern plant breeding. It is our hope that the application of NGS technologies to plant breeding will help us to meet the challenge of feeding a growing world population. © 2014 Varshney et al.