A barley cDNA macroarray comprising 1,440 unique genes was used to analyze the spatial and temporal patterns of gene expression in embryo, scutellum and endosperm tissue during different stages of germination. Among the set of expressed genes, 69 displayed the highest mRNA level in endosperm tissue, 58 were up-regulated in both embryo and scutellum, 11 were specifically expressed in the embryo and 16 in scutellum tissue. Based on Blast X analyses, 70% of the differentially expressed genes could be assigned a putative function. One set of genes, expressed in both embryo and scutellum tissue, included functions in cell division, protein translation, nucleotide metabolism, carbohydrate metabolism and some transporters. The other set of genes expressed in endosperm encodes several metabolic pathways including carbohydrate and amino acid metabolism as well as protease inhibitors and storage proteins. As shown for a storage protein and a trypsin inhibitor, the endosperm of the germinating barley grain contains a considerable amount of residual mRNA which was produced during seed development and which is degraded during early stages of germination. Based on similar expression patterns in the endosperm tissue, we identified 29 genes which may undergo the same degradation process.