Photoreceptor disorders are collectively known as retinal degeneration (RD), and include retinitis pigmentosa (RP), cone-rod dystrophy and age related macular degeneration (AMD). These disorders are largely genetic in origin; individual mutations in any one of >200 genes cause RD, making mutation specific therapies prohibitively expensive. A better treatment plan, particularly for late stage disease, may involve stem cell transplants into the photoreceptor or ganglion cell layers of the retina. Stem cells from young mouse retinas can be transplanted, and can form photoreceptors in adult retinas. These cells can be grown in tissue culture, but can no longer form photoreceptors. We have used microarrays to investigate differences in gene expression between cultured retinal progenitor cells (RPCs) that have lost photoreceptor potential, postnatal day 1 (pn1) retinas and the postnatal day 5 (pn5) retinas that contain transplantable photoreceptors. We have also compared FACS sorted Rho-eGFP expressing rod photoreceptors from pn5 retinas with Rho-eGFP negative cells from the same retinas. We have identified over 300 genes upregulated in rod photoreceptor development in multiple comparisons, 37 of which have been previously identified as causative of retinal disease when mutated. It is anticipated that this research should bring us closer to growing photoreceptors in culture and therefore better treatments for RD. This dataset is also a resource for those seeking to identify novel retinopathy genes in RD patients.