Next-generation high-throughput DNA sequencing technologies have advanced progressively in sequence-based genomic research and novel biological applications with the promise of sequencing DNA at unprecedented speed. These new non-Sanger-based technologies feature several advantages, when compared with traditional sequencing methods in terms of higher sequencing speed, lower per run cost and higher accuracy. However, reads from next-generation sequencing (NGS) platforms, such as 454/Roche, ABI/SOLiD and Illumina/Solexa, are usually short, thereby restricting the applications of NGS platforms in genome assembly and annotation. We presented an overview of the challenges that these novel technologies meet and particularly illustrated various bioinformatics attempts on mapping and assembly for problem solving. We then compared the performance of several programs in these two fields and further provided advices on selecting suitable tools for specific biological applications.Journal of Human Genetics advance online publication, 16 June 2011; doi:10.1038/jhg.2011.62.