A new strategy has been designed to identify putative pathogenicity factors from the dorsal or subventral esophageal glands of the potato cyst nematode Globodera rostochiensis. Three independent criteria were used for selection. First, genes of interest should predominantly be expressed in infective second-stage juveniles, and not, or to a far lesser extent, in younger developmental stages. For this, gene expression profiles from five different developmental stages were generated with cDNA-AFLP (amplified fragment length polymorphism). Secondly, the mRNA corresponding to such a putative pathogenicity factor should predominantly be present in the esophageal glands of pre-parasitic juveniles. This was checked by in situ hybridization. As a third criterion, these proteinaceous factors should be preceded by a signal peptide for secretion. Expression profiles of more than 4,000 genes were generated and three up-regulated, dorsal gland-specific proteins preceded by signal peptide for secretion were identified. No dorsal gland genes have been cloned before from plant-parasitic nematodes. The partial sequence of these three factors, A4, A18, and A41, showed no significant homology to any known gene. Their presence in the dorsal glands of infective juveniles suggests that these proteins could be involved in feeding cell initiation, and not in migration in the plant root or in protection against plant defense responses. Finally, the applicability of this new strategy in other plant-microbe interactions is discussed.