Biliary atresia (BA) is a rare cholestatic disease of unknown etiology that affects infants and shows an incidence of 1 out of 18,000 live births in Europe (1). The first therapeutic option is a timely performed portoenterostomy. However, the majority of patients suffer from a progressive inflammatory process, which leads to complete destruction of the extra- and intrahepatic biliary system followed by end-stage liver cirrhosis. Hence, BA is the leading indication for pediatric liver transplantation worldwide (2, 3). To understand the pathogenesis of the disease and improve theoutcome of BA patients, research has focused on the inflammatory process in liver and bile ducts, in which several factors are remarkably elevated, such as activated CD4 and CD8 T-cells, TNF alpha,IFN alpha and other proinflammatory TH1 cytokines (3-8). By the time of diagnosis, however, the disease has already reached an advanced state, characterized by the complete obstruction of the extrahepatic bile ducts with impaired bile flow and fibrosis or cirrhosis of the liver. Therefore, studies in humans focusing on the trigger mechanism of BA are limited due to the paucity of liver and availability of bile duct tissue for research. One infectious animal model has been developed, in which newborn Balb/c mice exclusively show the experimental BA phenotype after infection with rhesus rotavirus (RRV) (9, 10). This model allows the analysis of the inflammatory reactions in liver and bile ducts at early steps in the development of bile duct atresia (11-20). Furthermore, inbred mouse strains have been shown to have a different susceptibility for the development of experimental BA, suggesting that Balb/c mice have an immunological gap responsible for disease progression (10, 12). The aim of this study was to identify key genes responsible for the BA phenotype by comparing the transcriptomes at an early time point after virus infection, i.e. before bile duct atresia, between two mouse strains with different susceptibilities to BA. Differences in the virus titration and the clinical course of infected mice were analyzed, and variations in the hepatic gene response assessed by comparative microarray assays were correlated to variances in the hepatic inflammatory reaction.