Interaction of hematopoietic progenitors with the thymic stromal microenvironment induces them to proliferate, adopt the T cell fate, and asymmetrically diverge into multiple T lineages. Progenitors at various developmental stages are stratified among different regions of the thymus, implying that the corresponding microenvironments differ from one another, and provide unique sets of signals to progenitors migrating between them. The nature of these differences remains undefined. Here we use novel physical and computational approaches to characterize these stromal subregions, distinguishing gene expression in microdissected tissues from that of their lymphoid constituents. Using this approach, we comprehensively map gene expression in functionally distinct stromal microenvironments, and identify clusters of genes that define each region. Quite unexpectedly, we find that the central cortex lacks distinctive features of its own, and instead appears to function by sequestering unique microenvironments found at the cortical extremities, and modulating the relative proximity of progenitors moving between them.