MicroRNA (miRNA) is a family of small regulatory RNAs that post-transcriptionally regulate many biological functions including growth and development. Recently, the expression of chicken miRNA miR-143 was identified by using a deep sequencing approach. In other vertebrate species, miR-143 functions as a regulator of adipocyte differentiation and as a tumour suppressor. However, little is known about the biological function(s) of miR-143 in chickens. To study the functions of chicken miR-143, DNA microarray analysis and a dual luciferase reporter assay were employed to identify genes directly targeted by miR-143 as well as other biologically relevant genes. Microarray analysis indicated that 124 genes were differentially expressed upon in vitro anti-miR-143 treatment in embryonic chick splenocytes (P-value cutoff <0.01). Many of these genes are associated with cell proliferation, apoptosis and tumourigenesis. Six of the up-regulated genes possess at least one potential miR-143 binding site in their 3′UTRs, of these the binding sites of PYCR2, PSTPIP1 and PDCD5 were validated by an in vitro luciferase reporter assay. In addition, several potential targets with important biological functions were identified by the miRanda algorithm and experimentally confirmed. These targets include KLF5, MAP3K7, TARDBP and UBE2E3, which have conserved miR-143 binding sites across multiple vertebrate species. Potential chicken specific miR-143 target sites were also validated for LPIN1, PCK2, PYCR2, METTL14, SLC2A2 and TNFSF10. Overall, the current study suggests that miR-143 is ubiquitously expressed among tissues and is likely to be involved in the regulation of cell proliferation and apoptosis.