Background: We investigate if pooling BAC clones and sequencing the pools can provide for more accurate assembly of genome sequences than the "whole genome shotgun" (WGS) approach. Furthermore, we quantify this accuracy increase. We compare the pooled BAC and WGS approaches using in silico simulations. Standard measures of assembly quality focus on assembly size and fragmentation, which are desirable for large whole genome assemblies. We propose additional measures enabling easy and visual comparison of assembly quality, such as rearrangements and redundant sequence content, relative to the known target sequence.Results: The best assembly quality scores were obtained using 454 coverage of 15× linear and 5× paired (3kb insert size) reads (15L-5P) on Arabidopsis. This regime gave similarly good results on four additional plant genomes of very different GC and repeat contents. BAC pooling improved assembly scores over WGS assembly, coverage and redundancy scores improving the most.Conclusions: BAC pooling works better than WGS, however, both require a physical map to order the scaffolds. Pool sizes up to 12Mbp work well, suggesting this pooling density to be effective in medium-scale re-sequencing applications such as targeted sequencing of QTL intervals for candidate gene discovery. Assuming the current Roche/454 Titanium sequencing limitations, a 12 Mbp region could be re-sequenced with a full plate of linear reads and a half plate of paired-end reads, yielding 15L-5P coverage after read pre-processing. Our simulation suggests that massively over-sequencing may not improve accuracy. Our scoring measures can be used generally to evaluate and compare results of simulated genome assemblies. © 2011 Haiminen et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.