Differences between males and females in the optimal phenotype that is favoured by selection can be resolved by the evolution of differential gene expression in the two sexes. Microarray experiments have shown that such sex-biased gene expression is widespread across organisms and genomes. Sex-biased genes show unusually rapid sequence evolution, are often labile in their pattern of expression, and are non-randomly distributed in the genome. Here we discuss the characteristics and expression of sex-biased genes, and the selective forces that shape this previously unappreciated source of phenotypic diversity. Sex-biased gene expression has implications beyond just evolutionary biology, including for medical genetics.