Background: The development of high throughput experimental technologies have given rise to the "-omics" era where terabyte-scale datasets for systems-level measurements of various cellular and molecular phenomena pose considerable challenges in data processing and extraction of biological meaning. Moreover, it has created an unmet need for the effective integration of these datasets to achieve insights into biological systems. While it has increased the demand for bioinformatics experts who can interface with biologists, it has also raised the requirement for biologists to possess a basic capability in bioinformatics and to communicate seamlessly with these experts. This may be achieved by embedding in their undergraduate and graduate life science education, basic training in bioinformatics geared towards acquiring a minimum skill set in computation and informatics. Results: Based on previous attempts to define curricula suitable for addressing the bioinformatics capability gap, an initiative was taken during the Workshops on Education in Bioinformatics and Computational Biology (WEBCB) in 2008 and 2009 to identify a minimum skill set for the training of future bioinformaticians and molecular biologists with informatics capabilities. The minimum skill set proposed is cross-disciplinary in nature, involving a combination of knowledge and proficiency from the fields of biology, computer science, mathematics and statistics, and can be tailored to the needs of the "-omics". Conclusion: The proposed bioinformatics minimum skill set serves as a guideline for biology curriculum design and development in universities at both the undergraduate and graduate levels.