The human placenta is hypomethylated compared to somatic tissues. However, the degree and specificity of placental hypomethylation across the genome is unclear. We assessed genome-wide methylation of the human placenta and compared it to that of the neutrophil, a representative homogeneous somatic cell. We observed global hypomethylation in placenta (relative reduction of 22%) compared to neutrophils. Placental hypomethylation was pronounced in intergenic regions and gene bodies, while the unmethylated state of the promoter remained conserved in both tissues. For every class of repeat elements, the placenta showed lower methylation but the degree of hypomethylation differed substantially between these classes. However, some retroelements, especially the evolutionarily younger Alu elements, retained high levels of placental methylation. Surprisingly, nonretrotransposon-containing sequences showed a greater degree of placental hypomethylation than retrotransposons in every genomic element (intergenic, introns, and exons) except promoters. The differentially methylated fragments (DMFs) in placenta and neutrophils were enriched in gene-poor and CpG-poor regions. The placentally hypomethylated DMFs were enriched in genomic regions that are usually inactive, whereas hypermethylated DMFs were enriched in active regions. Hypomethylation of the human placenta is not specific to retroelements, indicating that the evolutionary advantages of placental hypomethylation go beyond those provided by expression of retrotransposons and retrogenes.