The identification of novel disease-associated genes in gynaecological tumours has important implications for understanding the process of tumourigenesis and the development of novel treatment regimens. cDNA libraries from disease tissues may represent a valuable source to identify such genes. Recently, a bio-informatic procedure based on an 'electronic Northern' approach was established to screen expressed sequence tag (EST) libraries for genes differentially expressed in tumour and normal tissues, and identified 450 candidate genes differentially expressed in breast and ovarian cancer. In this report, the validation of an initial set of 40 candidate genes, which were selected due to their localization in chromosomal regions frequently altered in gynaecological tumours, is described. Differential expression of 29 of these genes, including three uncharacterized novel genes, was confirmed by applying cancer profiling arrays with 106 matched pairs of tumour/normal cDNAs and quantitative reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) on 60 clinical specimens. The majority of these differentially expressed genes have not been described previously in the context of breast and ovarian cancer, and may constitute novel diagnostic markers for these tumour entities.