Embryonic development in Drosophila is characterized by an early phase during which a cellular blastoderm is formed and gastrulation takes place, and by a later postgastrulation phase in which key morphogenetic processes such as segmentation and organogenesis occur. We have focused on this later phase in embryogenesis with the goal of obtaining a comprehensive analysis of the zygotic gene expression that occurs during development under normal and altered environmental conditions. For this, a functional genomic approach to embryogenesis has been developed that uses high-density oligonucleotide arrays for large-scale detection and quantification of gene expression. These oligonucleotide arrays were used for quantitative transcript imaging of embryonically expressed genes under standard conditions and in response to heat shock. In embryos raised under standard conditions, transcripts were detected for 37% of the 1,519 identified genes represented on the arrays, and highly reproducible quantification of gene expression was achieved in all cases. Analysis of differential gene expression after heat shock revealed substantial expression level changes for known heat-shock genes and identified numerous heat shock-inducible genes. These results demonstrate that high-density oligonucleotide arrays are sensitive, efficient, and quantitative instruments for the analysis of large scale gene expression in Drosophila embryos.