The genus Mentha encompasses mint species cultivated for their essential oils, which are formulated into a vast array of consumer products. Desirable oil characteristics and resistance to the fungal disease Verticillium wilt are top priorities for the mint industry. However, cultivated mints have complex polyploid genomes and are sterile. Breeding efforts, therefore, require the development of genomic resources for fertile mint species. Here, we present draft de novo genome and plastome assemblies for a wilt-resistant South African accession of Mentha longifolia (L.) Huds., a diploid species ancestral to cultivated peppermint and spearmint. The 353 Mb genome contains 35 597 predicted protein-coding genes, including 292 disease resistance gene homologs, and nine genes determining essential oil characteristics. A genetic linkage map ordered 1397 genome scaffolds on 12 pseudochromosomes. More than two million simple sequence repeats were identified, which will facilitate molecular marker development. The M. longifolia genome is a valuable resource for both metabolic engineering and molecular breeding. This is exemplified by employing the genome sequence to clone and functionally characterize the promoters in a peppermint cultivar, and demonstrating the utility of a glandular trichome-specific promoter to increase expression of a biosynthetic gene, thereby modulating essential oil composition.