Grain dormancy and germination are areas of biology that are of considerable interest to the cereal community. We have used a 9,155-feature wheat unigene cDNA microarray resource to investigate changes in the wheat embryo transcriptome during late grain development and maturation and during the first 48 h of postimbibition germination. In the embryo 392 mRNAs accumulated by twofold or greater over the time course from 21 days postanthesis (dpa) to 40 dpa and on through 1 and 2 days postgermination. These included mRNAs encoding proteins involved in amino acid biosynthesis and metabolism, cell division and subsequent cell development, signal transduction, lipid metabolism, energy production, protein turnover, respiration, initiation of transcription, initiation of translation and ribosomal composition. A number of mRNAs encoding proteins of unknown function also accumulated over the time course. Conversely 163 sequences showed decreases of twofold or greater over the time course. A small number of mRNAs also showed rapid accumulation specifically during the first 48 h of germination. We also examined alterations in the accumulation of transcripts encoding proteins involved in abscisic acid signalling. Thus, we describe changes in the level of transcripts encoding wheat Viviparous 1 (Vp1) and other interacting proteins. Interestingly, the transcript encoding wheat Viviparous-interacting protein 1 showed a pattern of accumulation that correlates inversely with germination. Our data suggests that the majority of the transcripts required for germination accumulate in the embryo prior to germination and we discuss the implications of these findings with regard to manipulation of germination in wheat.