Among a histologically heterogeneous group of soft tissue sarcomas, synovial sarcoma (SS) is regarded as a "miscellaneous" entity of uncertain origin. Although recent molecular analysis has disclosed involvement of a specific chromosomal translocation in the pathogenesis of SS, its genetic features remain largely unclear. In the work reported here we examined genome-wide gene expression profiles of 13 SS cases and 34 other spindle-cell sarcoma cases by cDNA microarray consisting of 23,040 genes. A hierarchical clustering analysis grouped SS and malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumor into the same category, and these two types of tumor shared expression patterns of numerous genes relating to neural differentiation. Several genes were up-regulated in almost all SS cases, and the presumed functions of known genes among them were related to migration or differentiation of neural crest cells, suggesting the possibility of neuroectodermal origin of SS. Moreover, we identified a set of genes that divided SS cases into two putative subclasses, a feature that may shed light on novel biological aspects of SS in addition to those having to do with epithelial differentiation. These data have provided clues for understanding the origin and tumorigenesis of SS.