We have optimized conditions for the chemiluminescent analysis of gene expression using high-density filter arrays (HDFAs). High sensitivity and specificity were achieved by optimizing cDNA probe synthesis, hybridization, and detection parameters. The chemiluminescent expression profile reflected expected differences in the transcripts isolated from different sources (placenta and keratinocytes). We estimated the detection limit for low-abundance message to be 1-15 transcripts per cell, a sensitivity rivaling that reported for microarray formats and exceeding that reported for autoradiographic HDFAs. The method allows for short exposure times and reuse of probe. It should be equally applicable to techniques such as differential screening of cDNA libraries and differential display PCR.