The Jamaican fruit bat (Artibeus jamaicensis) is one of the most common bats in the tropical Americas. It is thought to be a potential reservoir host of Tacaribe virus, an arenavirus closely related to the South American hemorrhagic fever viruses. We performed transcriptome sequencing and annotation from lung, kidney and spleen tissues using 454 and Illumina platforms to develop this species as an animal model. More than 100,000 contigs were assembled, with 25,000 genes that were functionally annotated. Of the remaining unannotated contigs, 80% were found within bat genomes or transcriptomes. Annotated genes are involved in a broad range of activities ranging from cellular metabolism to genome regulation through ncRNAs. Reciprocal BLAST best hits yielded 8,785 sequences that are orthologous to mouse, rat, cattle, horse and human. Species tree analysis of sequences from 2,378 loci was used to achieve 95% bootstrap support for the placement of bat as sister to the clade containing horse, dog, and cattle. Through substitution rate estimation between bat and human, 32 genes were identified with evidence for positive selection. We also identified 466 immune-related genes, which may be useful for studying Tacaribe virus infection of this species. The Jamaican fruit bat transcriptome dataset is a resource that should provide additional candidate markers for studying bat evolution and ecology, and tools for analysis of the host response and pathology of disease.