The onset of cardiac hypertrophy is associated with characteristic changes in myocardial gene expression that are thought to recapitulate a developmental gene program. We report here the first gene expression profile of the murine myocardium, using a rapid method of quantitative expression analysis based on real-time analytical RT-PCR. This assay was used to measure expression levels of 29 genes in (1) late stage development as represented by day 1 neonatal ventricles, (2) normal cardiac growth in 3 and 18 month old mice, and (3) cardiac hypertrophy following pressure overload by aortic constriction. For males and females normal growth is not associated with differential expression although there is elevated expression of skeletal and smooth muscle actin mRNA's in males compared to females. Using normal adult ventricles as a reference, there are many qualitative and quantitative differences between the day 1 neonatal myocardium and experimental cardiac hypertrophy. These data suggest that the response to POL involves a subset of re-expressed developmental genes together with altered expression of genes not necessarily associated with cardiac development.