Arbuscular mycorrhizae (AM) are the most widespread symbioses on Earth, promoting nutrient supply of most terrestrial plant species. To unravel gene expression in defined stages of Medicago truncatula root colonization by AM fungi, we here combined genome-wide transcriptome profiling based on whole mycorrhizal roots with real-time reverse transcription-PCR experiments that relied on characteristic cell types obtained via laser microdissection. Our genome-wide approach delivered a core set of 512 genes significantly activated by the two mycorrhizal fungi Glomus intraradices and Glomus mossae. Focusing on 62 of these genes being related to membrane transport, signaling, and transcriptional regulation, we distinguished whether they are activated in arbuscule-containing or the neighboring cortical cells harboring fungal hyphae. In addition, cortical cells from nonmycorrhizal roots served as a reference for gene expression under noncolonized conditions. Our analysis identified 25 novel arbuscule-specific genes and 37 genes expressed both in the arbuscule-containing and the adjacent cortical cells colonized by fungal hyphae. Among the AM-induced genes specifying transcriptional regulators were two members encoding CAAT-box binding transcription factors (CBFs), designated MtCbf1 and MtCbf2. Promoter analyses demonstrated that both genes were already activated by the first physical contact between the symbionts. Subsequently, and corresponding to our cell-type expression patterns, they were progressively up-regulated in those cortical areas colonized by fungal hyphae, including the arbuscule-containing cells. The encoded CBFs thus represent excellent candidates for regulators that mediate a sequential reprogramming of root tissues during the establishment of an AM symbiosis.