The traditional approach to the study of biology employs small-scale experimentation that results in the description of a molecular sequence of known function or relevance. In the era of the genome the reverse is true, as large-scale cloning and gene sequencing come first, followed by the use of computational methods to systematically determine gene function and regulation. The overarching goal of this new approach is to translate the knowledge learned from a systematic, global analysis of genomic data into a complete understanding of biology. For investigators who study shock, the specific goal is to increase understanding of the adaptive response to injury at the level of the entire genome. This review describes our initial experience using DNA microarrays to profile stress-induced changes in gene expression. We conclude that efforts to apply genomics to the study of injury are best coordinated by multi-disciplinary groups, because of the extensive expertise required.