Its accessibility, unique evolutionary position, and recently assembled genome sequence have advanced the chicken to the forefront of comparative genomics and developmental biology research as a model organism. Several chicken expressed sequence tag (EST) projects have placed the chicken in 10th place for accrued ESTs among all organisms in GenBank. We have completed the single-pass 5'-end sequencing of 37,557 chicken cDNA clones from several single and multiple tissue cDNA libraries and have entered 35,407 EST sequences into GenBank. Our chicken EST sequences and those found in public databases (on July 1, 2004) provided a total of 517,727 public chicken ESTs and mRNAs. These sequences were used in the CAP3 assembly of a chicken gene index composed of 40,850 contigs and 79,192 unassembled singlets. The CAP3 contigs show a 96.7% match to the chicken genome sequence. The University of Delaware (UD) EST collection (43,928 clones) was assembled into 19,237 nonredundant sequences (13,495 contigs and 5,742 unassembled singlets). The UD collection contains 6,223 unique sequences that are not found in other public EST collections but show a 76% match to the chicken genome sequence. Our chicken contig and singlet sequences were annotated according to the highest BlastX and/or BlastN hits. The UD CAP3 contig assemblies and singlets are searchable by nucleotide sequence or key word (http://cogburn.dbi.udel.edu), and the cDNA clones are readily available for distribution from the chick EST website and clone repository (http://www.chickest.udel.edu). The present paper describes the construction and normalization of single and multiple tissue chicken cDNA libraries, high-throughput EST sequencing from these libraries, the CAP3 assembly of a chicken gene index from all public ESTs, and the identification of several nonredundant chicken gene sets for production of custom DNA microarrays.