The DNA microarray technology enables the identification of the large number of genes involved in the complex deregulation of cell homeostasis taking place in cancer. Using Affymetrix microarrays, we have compared the gene expression profiles of highly purified malignant plasma cells from nine patients with multiple myeloma (MM) and eight myeloma cell lines to those of highly purified nonmalignant plasma cells (eight samples) obtained by in vitro differentiation of peripheral blood B cells. Two unsupervised clustering algorithms classified these 25 samples into two distinct clusters: a malignant plasma cell cluster and a normal plasma cell cluster. Two hundred and fifty genes were significantly up-regulated and 159 down-regulated in malignant plasma samples compared to normal plasma samples. For some of these genes, an overexpression or downregulation of the encoded protein was confirmed (cyclin D1, c-myc, BMI-1, cystatin c, SPARC, RB). Two genes overexpressed in myeloma cells (ABL and cystathionine beta synthase) code for enzymes that could be a therapeutic target with specific drugs. These data provide a new insight into the understanding of myeloma disease and prefigure that the development of DNA microarray could help to develop an 'à la carte' treatment in cancer disease.