The lentil is among the earliest domesticates from the Near East Fertile Crescent. With seed of high nutritional value and a low water use, the food legume crop – lentils – is well adapted to cereal-based dryland cropping in Mediterranean and subtropical regions. Canada and India are the largest producers. Major production problems addressable through breeding are outlined. To solve these problems, available genetic resources and breeding methodologies for today and tomorrow (biotechnology) are described. Examples of key achievements such as the broadening of the genetic base of the crop in South Asia, the development of plant types suited to a mechanized harvest, and the breeding of lentil with winterhardiness are given. The article concludes by highlighting future challenges in lentil breeding.