The domestic ferret (Mustela putorius furo) is an important animal model for multiple human respiratory diseases. It is considered the 'gold standard' for modeling human influenza virus infection and transmission1,2,3,4. Here we describe the 2.41 Gb draft genome assembly of the domestic ferret, constituting 2.28 Gb of sequence plus gaps. We annotated 19,910 protein-coding genes on this assembly using RNA-seq data from 21 ferret tissues. We characterized the ferret host response to two influenza virus infections by RNA-seq analysis of 42 ferret samples from influenza time-course data and showed distinct signatures in ferret trachea and lung tissues specific to 1918 or 2009 human pandemic influenza virus infections. Using microarray data from 16 ferret samples reflecting cystic fibrosis disease progression, we showed that transcriptional changes in the CFTR-knockout ferret lung reflect pathways of early disease that cannot be readily studied in human infants with cystic fibrosis disease.