Ferric nitrilotriacetate induces oxidative damage in renal proximal tubules that ultimately leads to a high incidence of renal cell carcinoma (RCC) in rats. In search of genes specifically involved in oxystress-induced carcinogenesis, we have applied a modified fluorescent differential display technique to the tumors and an established cell line as well as their non-neoplastic counterparts. We screened approximately 84,000 products. Reverse Northern blotting confirmed differential expression of 20 transcripts, which showed either significant increase, decrease or lack of expression in the RCCs. Five cDNA clones encoded novel products of unknown function. Fifteen cDNA clones were identified by homology search, which included annexin II, Y-box binding protein, ribosomal proteins, heat shock proteins, DNA polymerase, nonmuscle caldesmon (increased); protein tyrosine phosphatase (decreased); selenoprotein P, stromal cell-derived factor 1, intestinal trefoil protein, nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide, reduced form (NADH) dehydrogenase, and insulin-like growth factor binding protein 7 (deleted). Most of the identified genes were associated with stress-response or cellular proliferation. These results suggest that multiple, interactive genetic pathways are involved in carcinogenesis induced by oxidative stress.