Nematodes pervade Earth's biosphere and occupy innumerable ecological niches. The role of Caenorhabditis elegans as a model for developmental processes has encouraged us to cultivate a second nematode, Pristionchus pacificus, as a comparative counterpoint to address questions in development, behavior and ecology in nematode evolution. We hope that this endeavor, now more than a decade underway, will allow us to project findings onto other comparative models for biological processes. To this end, our laboratory has made an extensive genetic map and mutant screens to understand changes in developmental programs. Recently, we have been capitalizing on the whole genome sequence of P. pacificus to describe more thoroughly the molecular basis for these changes, as well as to better integrate our molecular knowledge with the biodiversity of Pristionchus species. BioEssays 28: 651–659, 2006. © 2006 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.