The face is one of the three regions most frequently affected by congenital defects in humans. To understand the molecular mechanisms involved, it is necessary to have a more complete picture of gene expression in the embryo. Here, we use microarrays to profile expression in chicken facial prominences, post neural crest migration and before differentiation of mesenchymal cells. Chip-wide analysis revealed that maxillary and mandibular prominences had similar expression profiles while the frontonasal mass chips were distinct. Of the 3094 genes that were differentially expressed in one or more regions of the face, a group of 56 genes was subsequently validated with quantitative polymerase chain reaction (QPCR) and a subset examined with in situ hybridization. Microarrays trends were consistent with the QPCR data for the majority of genes (81%). On the basis of QPCR and microarray data, groups of genes that characterize each of the facial prominences can be determined. Developmental Dynamics 239:574–591, 2010. © 2009 Wiley-Liss, Inc.