This study creates a compendium of gene expression in normal human tissues suitable as a reference for defining basic organ systems biology. Using oligonucleotide microarrays, we analyze 59 samples representing 19 distinct tissue types. Of approximately 7,000 genes analyzed, 451 genes are expressed in all tissue types and designated as housekeeping genes. These genes display significant variation in expression levels among tissues and are sufficient for discerning tissue-specific expression signatures, indicative of fundamental differences in biochemical processes. In addition, subsets of tissue-selective genes are identified that define key biological processes characterizing each organ. This compendium highlights similarities and differences among organ systems and different individuals and also provides a publicly available resource (Human Gene Expression Index, the HuGE Index, http://www.hugeindex.org) for future studies of pathophysiology.