The 2008 annual conference of the Asia Pacific Bioinformatics Network (APBioNet), Asia's oldest bioinformatics organisation set up in 1998, was organized as the 7th International Conference on Bioinformatics (InCoB), jointly with the Bioinformatics and Systems Biology in Taiwan (BIT 2008) Conference, Oct. 20-23, 2008 at Taipei, Taiwan. Besides bringing together scientists from the field of bioinformatics in this region, InCoB is actively involving researchers from the area of systems biology, to facilitate greater synergy between these two groups. Marking the 10th Anniversary of APBioNet, this InCoB 2008 meeting followed on from a series of successful annual events in Bangkok (Thailand), Penang (Malaysia), Auckland (New Zealand), Busan (South Korea), New Delhi (India) and Hong Kong. Additionally, tutorials and the Workshop on Education in Bioinformatics and Computational Biology (WEBCB) immediately prior to the 20th Federation of Asian and Oceanian Biochemists and Molecular Biologists (FAOBMB) Taipei Conference provided ample opportunity for inducting mainstream biochemists and molecular biologists from the region into a greater level of awareness of the importance of bioinformatics in their craft. In this editorial, we provide a brief overview of the peer-reviewed manuscripts accepted for publication herein, grouped into thematic areas. As the regional research expertise in bioinformatics matures, the papers fall into thematic areas, illustrating the specific contributions made by APBioNet to global bioinformatics efforts.