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Microarrays, or gene chips, are transforming the way that gene expression is measured by allowing us to determine the expression of thousands of genes from a sample. This gives immense power to examine gene expression on a global scale within individual animals and between animals. The scope for analysing complex animal functions at the molecular level is within our grasp. Relatively few studies have examined complex behaviours and correlated them with gene expression in the central nervous system. Here, we review the use of microarray technology in the dissection of behaviour and focus specifically on dominance status. A cDNA library using suppression subtraction hybridisation on rainbow trout Oncorhynchus mykiss of differing status has been produced to enrich the cDNA library for genes that are differentially expressed between individuals of different dominance status. A preliminary analysis demonstrated that there were 1,165 genes that differed between fish of different dominance status. Therefore, there is the potential of correlating gene expression profile with rank position within dominance hierarchies, thus identifying targets for candidate gene approaches.