Steinernema carpocapsae is an insect parasitic nematode widely used in pest control programs. The efficacy of this nematode in controlling insects has been found to be related to the pathogenicity of the infective stage. In order to study the parasitic mechanisms exhibited by this parasite, a cDNA library of the induced S. carpocapsae parasitic phase was generated. A total of 2500 clones were sequenced and 2180 high-quality ESTs were obtained from this library. Cluster analysis generated a total of 1592 unique sequences including 1393 singletons. About 63% of the unique sequences had significant hits (e</=1e-05) to the non-redundant protein database. The remaining sequences most likely represent putative novel protein coding genes. Comparative analysis identified 377 homologs in C. elegans, 431 in C. briggsae and 75 in other nematodes. Classification of the predicted proteins revealed involvement in diverse cellular, metabolic and extracellular functions. One hundred and nineteen clusters were predicted to encode putative secreted proteins such as proteases, proteases inhibitors, lectins, saposin-like proteins, acetylcholinesterase, anti-oxidants, and heat-shock proteins, which can possibly have host interactions. This dataset provides a basis for genomic studies towards a better understanding of the events that occur in the parasitic process of this entomopathogenic nematode, including invasion of the insect haemocoelium, adaptations to insect innate immunity and stress responses, and production of virulence factors. The identification of key genes in the parasitic process provides useful tools for the improvement of S. carpocapsae as a biological agent.