Schistosoma japonicum is a parasitic flatworm that causes human schistosomiasis, which is a significant cause of morbidity in China and the Philippines. Here we present a draft genomic sequence for the worm. The genome provides a global insight into the molecular architecture and host interaction of this complex metazoan pathogen, revealing that it can exploit host nutrients, neuroendocrine hormones and signalling pathways for growth, development and maturation. Having a complex nervous system and a well-developed sensory system, S.japonicum can accept stimulation of the corresponding ligands as a physiological response to different environments, such as fresh water or the tissues of its intermediate and mammalian hosts. Numerous proteases, including cercarial elastase, are implicated in mammalian skin penetration and haemoglobin degradation. The genomic information will serve as a valuable platform to facilitate development of new interventions for schistosomiasis control.