Expression profiling in the hippocampus is hampered by its cellular heterogeneity. The aim of this study was to evaluate the feasibility of using laser-microdissected hippocampal subregions for expression profiling to improve detection of transcripts with a subregion-specific expression. Cornu ammonis (CA)3 and dentate gyrus (DG) subregions were isolated from rat brain slices using laser microdissection, subjected to two rounds of linear amplification and hybridized to rat GeneChips containing approximately 8000 transcripts (RG_U34A; Affymetrix). Analysis of the data using significance analysis of microarrays revealed 724 genes with a significant difference in expression between CA3 and DG with a false discovery rate of 2.1%, of which 264 had higher expression in DG and 460 in CA3. Several transcripts with known differential expression between the subregions were included in the dataset, as well as numerous novel mRNAs and expressed sequence tags. Sorting of the differentially expressed genes according to gene ontology classification revealed that genes involved in glycolysis and general metabolism, neurogenesis and cell adhesion were consistently expressed at higher levels in CA3. Conversely, a large cluster of genes involved in protein biosynthesis were expressed at higher levels in DG. In situ hybridization was used to validate differential expression of a selection of genes. The results of this study demonstrate that the combination of laser microdissection and GeneChip technology is both technically feasible and very promising. Besides providing an extensive inventory of genes showing differential expression between CA3 and DG, this study supports the idea that profiling in hippocampal subregions should improve detection of genes with a subregion-specific expression or regulation.