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The oviduct epithelium undergoes marked morphological and functional changes during the oestrous cycle. To study these changes at the level of the transcriptome we did a systematic gene expression analysis of bovine oviduct epithelial cells at oestrus and dioestrus using a combination of subtracted cDNA libraries and cDNA array hybridisation. A total of 3072 cDNA clones of two subtracted libraries were analysed by array hybridisation with cDNA probes derived from six cyclic heifers, three of them slaughtered at oestrus and three at dioestrus. Sequencing of cDNAs showing significant differences in their expression levels revealed 77 different cDNAs. Thirty-seven were expressed at a higher level at oestrus, for the other 40 genes expression levels were higher at dioestrus. The identified genes represented a variety of functional classes. During oestrus especially genes involved in the regulation of protein secretion and protein modification, and mRNAs of secreted proteins, were up-regulated, whereas during dioestrus particularly transcripts of genes involved in transcription regulation showed a slight up-regulation. The concentrations of seven selected transcripts were quantified by real-time RT-PCR to validate the cDNA array hybridisation data. For all seven transcripts, RT-PCR results were in excellent correlation (r>0.92) with the results obtained by array hybridisation. Our study is the first to analyse changes in gene expression profiles of bovine oviduct epithelial cells during different stages of the oestrous cycle, providing a starting point for the clarification of the key transcriptome changes in these cells.