Detailed information about stage-specific changes in gene expression is crucial for the understanding of the gene regulatory networks underlying development. Here, we describe the global gene expression dynamics during early flower development, a key process in the life cycle of a plant, during which floral patterning and the specification of floral organs is established. We used a novel floral induction system in Arabidopsis, which allows the isolation of a large number of synchronized floral buds, in conjunction with whole-genome microarray analysis to identify genes with differential expression at distinct stages of flower development. We found that the onset of flower formation is characterized by a massive downregulation of genes in incipient floral primordia, which is followed by a predominance of gene activation during the differentiation of floral organs. Among the genes we identified as differentially expressed in the experiment, we detected a significant enrichment of closely related members of gene families. The expression profiles of these related genes were often highly correlated, indicating similar temporal expression patterns. Moreover, we found that the majority of these genes is specifically up-regulated during certain developmental stages. Because co-expressed members of gene families in Arabidopsis frequently act in a redundant manner, these results suggest a high degree of functional redundancy during early flower development, but also that its extent may vary in a stage-specific manner.