Microbial life predominates in the ocean, yet little is known about its genomic variability, especially along the depth continuum. We report here genomic analyses of planktonic microbial communities in the North Pacific Subtropical Gyre, from the ocean's surface to near-sea floor depths. Sequence variation in microbial community genes reflected vertical zonation of taxonomic groups, functional gene repertoires, and metabolic potential. The distributional patterns of microbial genes suggested depth-variable community trends in carbon and energy metabolism, attachment and motility, gene mobility, and host-viral interactions. Comparative genomic analyses of stratified microbial communities have the potential to provide significant insight into higher-order community organization and dynamics.