We assessed gene expression in tissue macrophages from various mouse organs. The diversity in gene expression among different populations of macrophages was considerable. Only a few hundred mRNA transcripts were selectively expressed by macrophages rather than dendritic cells, and many of these were not present in all macrophages. Nonetheless, well-characterized surface markers, including MerTK and FcγR1 (CD64), along with a cluster of previously unidentified transcripts, were distinctly and universally associated with mature tissue macrophages. TCEF3, C/EBP-α, Bach1 and CREG-1 were among the transcriptional regulators predicted to regulate these core macrophage-associated genes. The mRNA encoding other transcription factors, such as Gata6, was associated with single macrophage populations. We further identified how these transcripts and the proteins they encode facilitated distinguishing macrophages from dendritic cells.