Limited emphasis has been given to the molecular study of apomixis, an asexual method of reproduction where seeds are produced without fertilization. Most buffelgrass (Pennisetum ciliare (L.) Link syn = Cenchrus ciliaris L.) genotypes reproduce by obligate apomixis (apospory); however, rare sexual plants have been recovered. A modified differential display procedure was used to compare gene expression in unpollinated ovaries containing ovules with either sexual or apomictic female gametophytes. The modification incorporated end-labeled poly(A)+ anchored primers as the only isotopic source, and was a reliable and consistent approach for detecting differentially displayed transcripts. Using 20 different decamers and two anchor primers, 2268 cDNA fragments between 200 and 600 bp were displayed. From these, eight reproducible differentially displayed cDNAs were identified and cloned. Based on northern analysis, one cDNA was detected in only the sexual ovaries, two cDNAs in only apomictic ovaries and one cDNA was present in both types of ovaries. Three fragments could not be detected and one fragment was detected in ovaries, stems, and leaves. Comparison of gene expression during sexual and apomictic development in buffelgrass represents a new model system and a strategy for investigating female reproductive development in the angiosperms.