Closure of the ductus arteriosus (DA) is a crucial step in the transition from fetal to postnatal life. Patent DA is one of the most common cardiovascular anomalies in children with significant clinical consequences especially in premature infants. We aimed to identify genes that specify the DA in the fetus and differentiate it from the aorta. Comparative microarray analysis of laser-captured microdissected endothelial (ECs) and vascular smooth muscle cells (SMCs) from the DA and aorta of fetal rats (embryonic day 18 and 21) identified vessel-specific transcriptional profiles. We found a strong age-dependency of gene expression. Among the genes that were upregulated in the DA the regulator of the G-protein coupled receptor 5 (Rgs5) and the transcription factor distal-less homeobox 1 (Dlx1) exhibited the highest and most significant level of differential expression. The aorta showed a significant preferential expression of the Purkinje cell protein 4 (Pcp4) gene. The results of the microarray analysis were validated by real-time quantitative PCR and immunohistochemistry. Our study confirms vessel-specific transcriptional profiles in ECs and SMCs of rat DA and aorta. Rgs5 and Dlx1 represent novel molecular targets for the regulation of DA maturation and closure.