A genome-wide expression analysis was undertaken to identify novel genes specifically activated from early stages of gametocytogenesis in Plasmodium falciparum. A comparative analysis was conducted on sexually induced cultures of reference parasite clone 3D7 and its gametocyteless derivative clone F12. Competitive hybridisations on long-oligomer microarrays representing 4488 P. falciparum genes identified a remarkably small number of transcripts differentially produced in the two clones. Upregulation of the mRNAs for the early gametocyte markers Pfs16 and Pfg27 was however readily detected in 3D7, and such genes were used as reference transcripts in a comparative time course analysis of 3D7 and F12 parasites between 30 and 40 h post-invasion in cultures induced to enter gametocytogenesis. One hundred and seventeen genes had expression profiles which correlated to those of pfs16 and pfg27, and Northern blot analysis and published proteomic data identified those whose expression was gametocyte-specific. Immunofluorescence analysis with antibodies against two of these gene products identified two novel parasite membrane associated, sexual stage-specific proteins. One was produced from stage I gametocytes and the second showed peak production in stage II gametocytes. The two proteins were named Pfpeg-3 and Pfpeg-4, for P. falciparum proteins of early gametocytes.