To find new genes involved in esophageal squamous cell carcinogenesis, we constructed custom cDNA arrays and used the arrays to compare gene expression profiles of 12 matched normal and malignant esophageal samples including seven superficial cancer tissues. The arrays represented nearly 4000 genes, including 1728 that were specifically selected based on pilot studies to find genes that were differentially expressed in esophageal cancers. Expression values for all genes were normalized for each sample and were compared in normal versus tumor tissues. There was a marked decrease in the levels of the transcriptional elongation factor A gene in all 12 of the squamous cell cancer samples compared to matched normal samples. Because the transcription elongation factor A gene has not been previously reported to be involved in cancer development, our results suggest that further investigation of its role in esophageal carcinogenesis is warranted.