Sequencing of mRNA using next-generation sequencing (NGS) technologies (RNA-seq) has the potential to reveal unprecedented complexity of the transcriptomes. The transcriptome sequencing of an organism provides quick insights into the gene space, opportunity to isolate genes of interest, development of functional markers, quantitation of gene expression, and comparative genomic studies. Although becoming cheaper, transcriptome sequencing still remains an expensive endeavor. Further, the assembly of millions and billions of RNA-seq reads to construct the complete transcriptome poses great informatics challenges. Here, first we outline various important issues from experimental design to data analysis, including various strategies of transcriptome assembly, which need substantial consideration for a successful RNA-seq experiment. Further, we describe a method for using RNA-seq to characterize the transcriptome of a plant species, taking the example of a legume crop plant chickpea. Our aim is to provide a quick start guide to the nonexpert researchers for NGS-based transcriptome analysis. © 2013 Springer Science+Business Media, LLC.