Microarrays enable comparative analyses of gene expression on a genomic scale, however these experiments frequently identify an abundance of differentially expressed genes such that it may be difficult to identify discrete functional networks that are hidden within large microarray datasets. Microarray analyses in which mutant organisms are compared to nonmutant siblings can be especially problematic when the gene of interest is expressed in relatively few cells. Here, we describe the use of laser microdissection microarray to perform transcriptional profiling of the maize shoot apical meristem (SAM), a ~100-microm pillar of organogenic cells that is required for leaf initiation. Microarray analyses compared differential gene expression within the SAM and incipient leaf primordium of nonmutant and narrow sheath mutant plants, which harbored mutations in the duplicate genes narrow sheath1 (ns1) and narrow sheath2 (ns2). Expressed in eight to ten cells within the SAM, ns1 and ns2 encode paralogous WUSCHEL1-like homeobox (WOX) transcription factors required for recruitment of leaf initials that give rise to a large lateral domain within maize leaves. The data illustrate the utility of laser microdissection-microarray analyses to identify a relatively small number of genes that are differentially expressed within the SAM. Moreover, these analyses reveal potentially conserved WOX gene functions and implicate specific hormonal and signaling pathways during early events in maize leaf development.