The third international conference on the genomic impact of eukaryotic transposable elements (TEs) was held 24 to 28 February 2012 at the Asilomar Conference Center, Pacific Grove, CA, USA. Sponsored in part by the National Institutes of Health grant 5 P41 LM006252, the goal of the conference was to bring together researchers from around the world who study the impact and mechanisms of TEs using multiple computational and experimental approaches. The meeting drew close to 170 attendees and included invited floor presentations on the biology of TEs and their genomic impact, as well as numerous talks contributed by young scientists. The workshop talks were devoted to computational analysis of TEs with additional time for discussion of unresolved issues. Also, there was ample opportunity for poster presentations and informal evening discussions. The success of the meeting reflects the important role of Repbase in comparative genomic studies, and emphasizes the need for close interactions between experimental and computational biologists in the years to come.