ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND: The development of vertebrate limbs has been a traditional system to study fundamental processes at work during ontogenesis, such as the establishment of spatial cellular coordinates, the effect of diffusible morphogenetic molecules or the translation between gene activity and morphogenesis. In addition, limbs are amongst the first targets of malformations in human and they display a huge realm of evolutionary variations within tetrapods, which make them a paradigm to study the regulatory genome. RESULTS: As a reference resource for future biochemical and genetic analyses, we used genome-wide tiling arrays to establish the transcriptomes of mouse limb buds at three different stages, during which major developmental events take place. We compare the three time-points and discuss some aspects of these datasets, for instance related to transcriptome dynamics or to the potential association between active genes and the distribution of intergenic transcriptional activity. CONCLUSIONS: These datasets provide a valuable resource, either for research projects involving gene expression and regulation in developing mouse limbs, or as examples of tissue-specific, genome-wide transcriptional activities.