In order to characterize the action of androgen in skeletal muscle, we have investigated the effects of castration (GDX) and dihydrotestosterone (DHT) on global gene expression in mice. The serial analysis of gene expression method was performed in the muscle of male mice in six experimental groups: intact, GDX and GDX+DHT injection 1, 3, 6 or 24 h before they were killed. A total of 780 822 sequenced tags quantified the expression level of 80 142 tag species. Thirteen and seventy-nine transcripts were differentially expressed in GDX and DHT respectively (P < 0.05), including eight partially characterized and 21 potential novel transcripts. The induced transcripts within 3 h after DHT injection were involved in the following functions: transcription, protein synthesis, modification and degradation, muscle contraction and relaxation, cell signaling, polyamine biosynthesis, cell cycle progression and arrest, angiogenesis, energy metabolism and immunity. However, the inductions of transcripts related to cell cycle arrest and angiogenesis were no longer significant 24 h after DHT injection. The current study might suggest that DHT promotes protein synthesis, cell signaling, cell proliferation and ATP production, as well as muscle contraction and relaxation at the transcriptional level in skeletal muscle in vivo.