Plant-parasitic nematodes are major agricultural pests worldwide and novel approaches to control them are sorely needed. We report the draft genome sequence of the root-knot nematode Meloidogyne incognita, a biotrophic parasite of many crops, including tomato, cotton and coffee. Most of the assembled sequence of this asexually reproducing nematode, totaling 86 Mb, exists in pairs of homologous but divergent segments. This suggests that ancient allelic regions in M. incognita are evolving toward effective haploidy, permitting new mechanisms of adaptation. The number and diversity of plant cell wall-degrading enzymes in M. incognita is unprecedented in any animal for which a genome sequence is available, and may derive from multiple horizontal gene transfers from bacterial sources. Our results provide insights into the adaptations required by metazoans to successfully parasitize immunocompetent plants, and open the way for discovering new antiparasitic strategies.