The mdx mouse is an animal model for Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD), which is caused by the absence of dystrophin. Mdx limb muscles substantially compensate for the lack of dystrophin while the diaphragm is affected like DMD skeletal muscles. To understand better the complex cascade of molecular events leading to muscle degeneration and compensatory processes in mdx muscles, we analyzed alterations of gene expression in mdx hindlimb and diaphragm muscles as compared to their normal counterparts. The strategy was based on suppression subtractive hybridization followed by reverse Northern quantitative hybridization. Four subtracted/normalized libraries, containing cDNA clones up- or downregulated in mdx hindlimb muscles or diaphragm, were constructed and a total of 1536 cDNA clones were analyzed. Ninety-three cDNAs were found to be differentially expressed in mdx hindlimb muscles and/or diaphragm. They corresponded to 54 known genes and 39 novel cDNAs. The potential role of the known genes is discussed in the context of the mdx phenotype.