Bone homeostasis is maintained by the balanced action of bone-forming osteoblasts and bone-resorbing osteoclasts. Multinucleated, mature osteoclasts develop from hematopoietic stem cells via the monocyte-macrophage lineage, which also give rise to macrophages and dendritic cells. Despite their distinct physiologic roles in bone and the immune system, these cell types share many molecular and biochemical features. To provide insights into how osteoclasts differentiate and function to control bone metabolism, we employed a systematic approach to profile patterns of osteoclast-specific gene expression by combining suppression subtractive hybridization (SSH) and cDNA microarray analysis. Here we examined how gene expression profiles of mature osteoclast differ from macrophage or dendritic cells, how gene expression profiles change during osteoclast differentiation, and how Mitf, a transcription factor critical for osteoclast maturation, affects the gene expression profile. This approach revealed a set of genes coordinately regulated for osteoclast function, some of which have previously been implicated in several bone diseases in humans.