Core subsets have been selected for the USDA chickpea (Cicer arietinum), lentil (Lens culinaris), and pea (Pisum sativum) germplasm collections. These subsets are specifically intended to increase the efficiency of the utilization of the entire collections of these taxa. The cores consist of 13% of the 3873 chickpeas, 12% of the 2390 lentils, and 17.5% of the 2886 pea accessions. They were selected by a proportional logarithmic model, and also contain additional accessions based upon documented concentrations of diversity. Each core has been screened for disease reactions, and results suggest that the cores can effectively direct germplasm users toward portions of the entire collections that contain resistant germplasm. These cores have also been useful for those interested in assessing the adaptation potential of these crops in new environments, because the entire range of adaptation is represented. Although cores may not always enhance access to germplasm with unique or extremely rare characteristics, the legume cores have been very useful for directing users toward desirable germplasm from defined geographic areas, and assisting users at the preliminary stages of germplasm evaluation.