summary A system-wide approach was adopted to further elucidate mechanisms regulating disease outcome between rice and the fungal pathogen Magnaporthe grisea. First, a cDNA library was constructed from M. grisea infected rice at 48 h post-inoculation. The 5' end-sequencing of 619 randomly selected clones revealed 359 expressed sequence tags (ESTs) that had not previously been described. A total of 124 from 260 ESTs with high and moderate similarity scores, based on BlastX, were organized into categories according to their putative function. The largest category of sequences (21%) contained stress or defence response genes. Eleven per cent of identified ESTs were redundant. In a second approach, differential hybridization analysis of the cDNA library using high-density filters resulted in the identification of novel genes and previously characterized M. grisea genes, including several that had previously been implicated in the infection process. A survey of up-regulated cDNA clones revealed clone 29003, which corresponded to the rice peroxidase POX22.3. This gene is known to be expressed in rice upon infection with Xanthomonas oryzae pv. oryzae, the bacterial blight pathogen. Importantly, this approach demonstrates the utility of gene discovery, through ESTs, for revealing novel genes in addition to those previously characterized as being potentially implicated in host-pathogen interactions.