BackgroundEntada phaseoloides (L.) Merr. is an important traditional medicinal plant. The stem of Entada phaseoloides is popularly used as traditional medicine because of its significance in dispelling wind and dampness and remarkable anti-inflammatory activities. Triterpenoid saponins are the major bioactive compounds of Entada phaseoloides. However, genomic or transcriptomic technologies have not been used to study the triterpenoid saponin biosynthetic pathway in this plant.ResultsWe performed comparative transcriptome analysis of the root, stem, and leaf tissues of Entada phaseoloides with three independent biological replicates and obtained a total of 53.26 Gb clean data and 116,910 unigenes, with an average N50 length of 1218 bp. Putative functions could be annotated to 42,191 unigenes (36.1%) based on BLASTx searches against the Non-redundant, Uniprot, KEGG, Pfam, GO, KEGG and COG databases. Most of the unigenes related to triterpenoid saponin backbone biosynthesis were specifically upregulated in the stem. A total of 26 cytochrome P450 and 17 uridine diphosphate glycosyltransferase candidate genes related to triterpenoid saponin biosynthesis were identified. The differential expressions of selected genes were further verified by qPT-PCR.ConclusionsThe dataset reported here will facilitate the research about the functional genomics of triterpenoid saponin biosynthesis and genetic engineering of Entada phaseoloides.