The use of antimalarial drugs is an important component of malaria control programmes. These drugs class broadly into quinolines, artemisinins, antifolates, atovaquone/proguanil and antibiotics. The effectiveness of drugs is increasingly compromised by resistance. The development of new antimalarials and improvement of existing ones is therefore crucial to reduction of the increasing disease burden and economic loss due to malaria. Publication of the genome sequences of the most virulent human malaria parasite, Plasmodium falciparum
and a rodent parasite, P. yoelii yoelii
open new opportunities for intensive research to identify critical parasite determinants encoded in the genomes that can serve as drug targets and candidates for drug discovery programmes. The future availability of genome sequences of primate and other human and rodent malaria parasites will permit comparative analysis and open the ability to test the efficacy of drugs in robust model systems prior to clinical trials.