Pancreatic cancer remains one of the most malignant tumors with a poor prognosis. Despite advances in diagnosis and treatment, no reliable biomarkers are available for clinical practice. Circular RNAs (circRNAs) are a novel class of endogenous non‑coding RNA, which are abundant, stable and conserved, and serve crucial roles in disease, particularly in cancer. The purpose of the present study was to investigate the expression profile of circRNAs in 20 pancreatic cancer tissues and corresponding paracancerous tissues using arraystar human circRNA array analysis, high‑throughput circRNA microarray, bioinformatic analysis and reverse transcription‑quantitative polymerase chain reaction. It was revealed that the circRNAs expression profile was significantly different between pancreatic cancer tissue and paracancerous tissue, which indicates a potential role in pancreatic cancer. It was predicted that circRNAs may act as a micro RNA sponge to modulate gene expression in pancreatic cancer. Additionally, microarray expression analysis data was submitted to the Gene Expression Omnibus under accession no. GSE79634. The present study revealed that circRNAs expression was visibly diverse in pancreatic cancer compared with paracancerous tissue and provides more reliable biomarkers and new insights into the mechanisms of pancreatic cancer.