Taking advantage of a progressive nonhuman primate model mimicking Parkinson's disease (PD) evolution, we monitored transcriptional fluctuations in the substantia nigra using Affymetrix microarrays in control (normal), saline-treated (normal), 6 days-treated (asymptomatic with 20% cell loss), 12 days-treated (asymptomatic with 40% cell loss) and 25 days-treated animals (fully parkinsonian with 85% cell loss). Two statistical methods were used to ascertain the regulation and real-time quantitative PCR was used to confirm their regulation. Surprisingly, the number of deregulated transcripts is limited at all time points and five clusters exhibiting different profiles were defined using a hierarchical clustering algorithm. Such profiles are likely to represent activation/deactivation of mechanisms of different nature. We briefly speculate about (i) the existence of yet unknown compensatory mechanisms is unraveled, (ii) the putative triggering of a developmental program in the mature brain in reaction to progressing degeneration and finally, (iii) the activation of mechanisms leading eventually to death in final stage. These data should help development of new therapeutic approaches either aimed at enhancing existing compensatory mechanisms or at protecting dopamine neurons.