As a first step toward elucidation of the action of factors secreted by the epithelium of oviduct, differential display reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (DDRT-PCR) was used in this study to identify transcripts of such oviductal factors in gilts carrying various stages of early embryo development post hormone-induced ovulation. A total of 13 differentially expressed transcripts were identified between 50 and 120 hr post-hCG injection (between 1- and 8-cell embryonic stages). Twelve of these transcripts were found to be initially expressed at 96 hr post-hCG injection (at 4-cell embryonic stage) and beyond. Three of such genes were shown by sequence analysis to be the porcine transforming growth factor-alpha, the porcine transforming growth factor-beta-binding protein II and a porcine astral natriuretic factor receptor-like transcript. Only one differentially expressed gene was detected between 50-60 and 85 hr post-hCG injection, and this gene turned out to be the porcine follicle-stimulating hormone receptor. The remaining eight transcripts detected by DDRT-PCR were novel. Moreover, most of these newly expressed genes were found to be turned on at a time coincidental with that of the 4-cell block of porcine embryos cultured in vitro. Our results demonstrate that DDRT-PCR is a feasible approach for rapid identification of genes that are differentially expressed in oviductal epithelium. Some of the genes thus identified may be important for unhindered development of embryos in the oviduct.