The fission yeast clade - comprising Schizosaccharomyces pombe, S. octosporus, S. cryophilus, and S. japonicus - occupies the basal branch of Ascomycete fungi and is an important model of eukaryote biology. A comparative annotation of these genomes identified a near extinction of transposons and the associated innovation of transposon-free centromeres. Expression analysis established that meiotic genes are subject to antisense transcription during vegetative growth, which suggests a mechanism for their tight regulation. In addition, trans-acting regulators control new genes within the context of expanded functional modules for meiosis and stress response. Differences in gene content and regulation also explain why, unlike the budding yeast of Saccharomycotina, fission yeasts cannot use ethanol as a primary carbon source. These analyses elucidate the genome structure and gene regulation of fission yeast and provide tools for investigation across the Schizosaccharomyces clade.