14,761 expressed sequence tags (ESTs) were generated, representing five stages during the parasitic and free-living phases of the life-cycle of the parasitic nematode Strongyloides ratti. These ESTs formed 4152 clusters, of which 97% contained 10 or fewer ESTs and 66% were singletons. These 4152 clusters are likely to represent approximately 20% of S. ratti's genes. The clusters' consensus sequences were used to assign each cluster to one of three databases: (i) Caenorhabditis elegans and C. briggsae sequences; (ii) other nematode sequences; (iii) non-nematode sequences. This approach has identified putative nematode-specific genes, that may be targets for developing approaches for parasitic nematode control. Approximately 25% of the clusters have no significant alignments and may therefore represent novel genes. The EST representation between the libraries was used to analyse stage-specific or -biased expression in silico. This showed that 81% of clusters are present in only one library and 12% are present in any two libraries, indicating substantial stage-specificity of gene expression. The 30-most abundantly expressed clusters were analysed in further detail. Many of these have significantly different parasitic- or free-living-specific or -biased expression. Many of the parasitic-specific genes are, as yet, uncharacterised: one of these represents 25% of all ESTs obtained from the parasitic stage.