Upon infection of the tropical legume Sesbania rostrata with Azorhizobium caulinodans ORS571, nodules are formed on the roots as well as on the stems. Stem nodules appear at multiple predetermined sites consisting of dormant root primordia, which are positioned in vertical rows along the stem of the plant. We used the differential display method to isolate and characterize three cDNA clones (differential display; didi-2, didi-13, and didi-20), corresponding to genes whose expression is enhanced in the dormant root primordia after inoculation. Database searches revealed that the deduced (partial) didi-2 gene product shares significant similarity with hydroxyproline-rich cell wall proteins. The (partial) didi-13 and didi-20 products are similar to chitinases and chalcone reductases, respectively. Transcripts corresponding to the cDNA clones didi-2 and didi-13 were first detectable 1 day after inoculation. In contrast, didi-20 transcripts were found at low levels in uninfected root primordia and were enhanced significantly around 3 days after inoculation. In addition, a cDNA was isolated (didi-42) that corresponds to the previously identified leghemoglobin gene Srlb6. These studies show that differential display is a useful method for the isolation of infection-related genes.