Our mechanistic understanding of progesterone's involvement in murine mammary morphogenesis and tumorigenesis is dependent on defining effector pathways responsible for transducing the progesterone signal into a morphogenetic response. Toward this goal, microarray methods were applied to the murine mammary gland to identify novel downstream gene targets of progesterone. Consistent with a tissue undergoing epithelial expansion, mining of the progesterone-responsive transcriptome revealed the up-regulation of functional gene classes involved in epithelial proliferation and survival. Reassuringly, signaling pathways previously reported to be responsive to progesterone were also identified. Mining this informational resource for rapidly induced genes, we identified "inhibitor of differentiation 4" (Id4) as a new molecular target acutely induced by progesterone exposure. Mammary Id4 is transiently induced during early pregnancy and colocalizes with progesterone receptor (PR) expression, suggesting that Id4 mediates the early events of PR-dependent mammary morphogenesis. Chromatin immunoprecipitation assay detecting direct recruitment of ligand occupied PR to the Id4 promoter supports this proposal. Given that Id4 is a member of the Id family of transcriptional regulators that have been linked to the maintenance of proliferative status and tumorigenesis, the establishment of a mechanistic link between PR signaling and Id4 promises to furnish a wider conceptual framework with which to advance our understanding of normal and abnormal mammary epithelial responses to progestins. In sum, the progesterone-responsive transcriptome described herein not only reinforces the importance of progesterone in mammary epithelial expansion but also represents an invaluable information resource with which to identify novel signaling paradigms for mammary PR action.