The tobacco hornworm, Manduca sexta, is a lepidopteran insect that is used extensively as a model system for studying insect biology, development, neuroscience, and immunity. However, current studies rely on the highly fragmented reference genome Msex_1.0, which was created using now-outdated technologies and is hindered by a variety of deficiencies and inaccuracies. We present a new reference genome for M. sexta, JHU_Msex_v1.0, applying a combination of modern technologies in a de novo assembly to increase continuity, accuracy, and completeness. The assembly is 470 Mb and is ∼20× more continuous than the original assembly, with scaffold N50 > 14 Mb. We annotated the assembly by lifting over existing annotations and supplementing with additional supporting RNA-based data for a total of 25,256 genes. The new reference assembly is accessible in annotated form for public use. We demonstrate that improved continuity of the M. sexta genome improves resequencing studies and benefits future research on M. sexta as a model organism.