Schistosoma mansoni is the primary causative agent of schistosomiasis, which affects 200 million individuals in 74 countries. We generated 163,000 expressed-sequence tags (ESTs) from normalized cDNA libraries from six selected developmental stages of the parasite, resulting in 31,000 assembled sequences and 92% sampling of an estimated 14,000 gene complement. By analyzing automated Gene Ontology assignments, we provide a detailed view of important S. mansoni biological systems, including characterization of metazoa-specific and eukarya-conserved genes. Phylogenetic analysis suggests an early divergence from other metazoa. The data set provides insights into the molecular mechanisms of tissue organization, development, signaling, sexual dimorphism, host interactions and immune evasion and identifies novel proteins to be investigated as vaccine candidates and potential drug targets.