The ciliary epithelium of the ciliary body is derived from the anterior rim of the developing optic cup. Several recent studies have found that developmental abnormalities in this tissue can underlie congenital glaucoma. However, there is little known about the development of the ciliary epithelium. To better understand the developmental events responsible for the specification of this domain of the optic cup, we used a subtractive library, differential screening approach along with the construction of cDNA arrays to identify genes expressed in the ciliary epithelium of the chicken. We identified many genes specifically expressed in the ciliary epithelium, including a number that had been described previously as enriched in the ciliary epithelium of other species. By analyzing the expression of these genes during eye development, we were able to correlate the onset of ciliary epithelial gene expression with a reduction in mitotic activity in this region. We propose that the mechanisms that regulate the expression of ciliary epithelial genes are linked to the reduction in proliferation that results in the epithelial monolayer in this region. Developmental Dynamics 229:529–540, 2004. © 2004 Wiley-Liss, Inc.