BACKGROUND AIMS Bone marrow (BM)-derived progenitor cells are under investigation for cardiovascular repair but may be altered by disease. Our aim was to identify differences in gene expression in CD133(+) cells of patients with coronary artery disease (CAD) and healthy controls, and determine whether exercise modifies gene expression. METHODS CD133(+) cells were flow-sorted from 10 CAD patients and four controls, and total RNA was isolated for microarray-based gene expression profiling. Genes that were found to be differentially regulated in patients were analyzed further to investigate whether exercise had any normalizing effect on CD133(+) cells in CAD patients following 3 months of an exercise program. RESULTS Improvement in effort tolerance and increases in the number of CD133(+) cells were observed in CAD patients after 3 months of exercise. Gene expression analysis of the CD133(+) cells identified 82 differentially expressed genes (2-fold cut-off, 25% false-discovery rate and % present calls) in patients compared with controls, of which 59 were found to be up-regulated and 23 down-regulated. These genes were found to be involved in carbohydrate metabolism, cell cycle, cellular development and signaling, and molecular transport. Following completion of the exercise program, gene expression patterns resembled those of controls in seven of 10 patients. CONCLUSIONS Alterations in gene expression of BM-derived CD133(+) progenitor cells were found in CAD patients, which in part may be normalized by exercise.