Microarrays were designed to monitor the expression of many genes in parallel, providing substantially more information than Northern blots or reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction analysing one or few genes at a time. The large sequencing projects provided the content for detailed expression studies under a variety of stimuli and conditions. The human genome project identified around 30 000 human genes. Estimated number of protein products is, however, 10–30 times higher, mainly due to the alternative splicing and post-translational modifications. The identification of gene functions requires both genomic and proteomic approaches, including protein microarrays, and numerous current microarray projects focus on deciphering gene expression patterns under a variety of conditions. Establishing the key genes and gene products for particular conditions opens the way for diagnostic applications using multiparameter, high-throughput assays. This format can also accommodate existing blood screening assays, potentially providing a single testing platform. This review considers the progress in diagnostic microarrays in a wider context of in vitro diagnostics field.