The MapReduce framework is currently the de facto standard used throughout both industry and academia for petabyte scale data analysis. As the input to a typical MapReduce computation is large, one of the key requirements of the framework is that the input cannot be stored on a single machine and must be processed in parallel. In this paper we describe a general algorithmic design technique in the MapReduce framework called filtering. The main idea behind filtering is to reduce the size of the input in a distributed fashion so that the resulting, much smaller, problem instance can be solved on a single machine. Using this approach we give new algorithms in the MapReduce framework for a variety of fundamental graph problems. Specifically, we present algorithms for minimum spanning trees, maximal matchings, approximate weighted matchings, approximate vertex and edge covers and minimum cuts. In all of these cases, we will parameterize our algorithms by the amount of memory available on the machines allowing us to show tradeoffs between the memory available and the number of MapReduce rounds. For each setting we will show that even if the machines are only given substantially sublinear memory, our algorithms run in a constant number of MapReduce rounds. To demonstrate the practical viability of our algorithms we implement the maximal matching algorithm that lies at the core of our analysis and show that it achieves a significant speedup over the sequential version.