Microarray technology continues to gain increased acceptance in the drug development process, particularly at the stage of toxicology and safety assessment. In the current study, microarrays were used to investigate gene expression changes associated with hepatotoxicity, the most commonly reported clinical liability with pharmaceutical agents. Acetaminophen, methotrexate, methapyrilene, furan and phenytoin were used as benchmark compounds capable of inducing specific but different types of hepatotoxicity. The goal of the work was to define gene expression profiles capable of distinguishing the different subtypes of hepatotoxicity. Sprague-Dawley rats were orally dosed with acetaminophen (single dose, 4500 mg/kg for 6, 24 and 72 h), methotrexate (1mg/kg per day for 1, 7 and 14 days), methapyrilene (100mg/kg per day for 3 and 7 days), furan (40 mg/kg per day for 1, 3, 7 and 14 days) or phenytoin (300 mg/kg per day for 14 days). Hepatic gene expression was assessed using toxicology-specific gene arrays containing 684 target genes or expressed sequence tags (ESTs). Principal component analysis (PCA) of gene expression data was able to provide a clear distinction of each compound, suggesting that gene expression data can be used to discern different hepatotoxic agents and toxicity endpoints. Gene expression data were applied to the multiplicity-adjusted permutation test and significantly changed genes were categorized and correlated to hepatotoxic endpoints. Repression of enzymes involved in lipid oxidation (acyl-CoA dehydrogenase, medium chain, enoyl CoA hydratase, very long-chain acyl-CoA synthetase) were associated with microvesicular lipidosis. Likewise, subsets of genes associated with hepatotocellular necrosis, inflammation, hepatitis, bile duct hyperplasia and fibrosis have been identified. The current study illustrates that expression profiling can be used to: (1) distinguish different hepatotoxic endpoints; (2) predict the development of toxic endpoints; and (3) develop hypotheses regarding mechanisms of toxicity.