Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a complex autoimmune disorder of the CNS with both genetic and environmental contributing factors. Clinical symptoms are broadly characterized by initial onset, and progressive debilitating neurological impairment. In this study, RNA from MS chronic active and MS acute lesions was extracted, and compared with patient matched normal white matter by fluorescent cDNA microarray hybridization analysis. This resulted in the identification of 139 genes that were differentially regulated in MS plaque tissue compared to normal tissue. Of these, 69 genes showed a common pattern of expression in the chronic active and acute plaque tissues investigated (P value<0.0001, ρ=0.73, by Spearman's ρ analysis); while 70 transcripts were uniquely differentially expressed (≥1.5-fold) in either acute or chronic active tissues. These results included known markers of MS such as the myelin basic protein (MBP) and glutathione S-transferase (GST) M1, nerve growth factors, such as nerve injury-induced protein 1 (NINJ1), X-ray and excision DNA repair factors (XRCC9 and ERCC5) and X-linked genes such as the ribosomal protein, RPS4X. Primers were then designed for seven array-selected genes, including transferrin (TF), superoxide dismutase 1 (SOD1), glutathione peroxidase 1 (GPX1), GSTP1, crystallin, alpha-B (CRYAB), phosphomannomutase 1 (PMM1) and tubulin β-5 (TBB5), and real time quantitative (Q)-PCR analysis was performed. The results of comparative Q-PCR analysis correlated significantly with those obtained by array analysis (r=0.75, P value<0.01, by Pearson's bivariate correlation). Both chronic active and acute plaques shared the majority of factors identified suggesting that quantitative, rather than gross qualitative differences in gene expression pattern may define the progression from acute to chronic active plaques in MS.