The molecular mechanisms by which parasitic nematodes reproduce and have adapted to life within a host are unclear. In the present study, microarray analysis was used to explore differential transcription among the different stages and sexes of Strongyloides ratti, a parasitic nematode of brown rats. Specifically, gender-biased transcription between free-living females and free-living males, and parasitic-biased transcription between parasitic females and free-living females was determined. Of the estimated 3,688 distinct transcripts represented on the microarray, 743 (20%) exhibited male-biased transcription of >1.4-fold (2(0.5)), 689 (19%) female-biased transcription, 418 (11%) parasitic-biased transcription and 305 (8%) free-living-biased transcription. Among those transcripts that exhibited the highest levels of differential transcription, an orthologue of major sperm protein was identified in males, distinct aspartic protease orthologues in either parasitic or in free-living females, and orthologues of hsp-17 chaperone in parasitic females. These 3,688 transcripts were separated into 12 clusters, such that the pattern of transcription between life-stages and biological replicates was similar among transcripts within a cluster and dissimilar between clusters. Using annotation inferred from Caenorhabditis elegans, gene ontology terms over-represented in one or more clusters were identified and showed that female-biased transcription was associated with genes involved in reproductive processes and larval development, male-biased transcription was linked to genes involved in metabolism, and free-living-biased transcription related to genes involved in the regulation of body fluids and response to external stimulus. The association of gene ontology with parasite-biased transcription was less clear. The present findings for S. ratti provide a basis for a detailed exploration of differentially regulated molecules and might assist in the search for novel drug or vaccine targets in parasitic nematodes.