PURPOSE: Androgens exert a significant influence on the structure, function and/or pathophysiology of the meibomian gland and conjunctiva. We sought to determine whether this hormone action involves the regulation of epithelial cell gene expression in these tissues. METHODS: Immortalized human meibomian gland and conjunctival epithelial cells were treated with placebo or dihydrotestosterone (DHT) and processed for molecular biologic procedures. Gene expression was evaluated with BeadChips and data were analyzed with bioinformatic and statistical software. RESULTS: Androgen treatment significantly influenced the expression of approximately 3,000 genes in immortalized human meibomian gland and conjunctival epithelial cells. The nature of DHT action on gene activity was predominantly cell-specific. Similarly, DHT exerted a significant, but primarily cell-specific, influence on many gene ontologies and Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes (KEGG) pathways. These included groups of genes related, for example, to lipid dynamics, innate immunity, cell cycle, Janus kinase (JAK)-signal transducer and activator of transcription (stat) cascades, oxidative phosphorylation, the proteasome, and mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR), Wnt, and peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor (PPAR) signaling. CONCLUSIONS: Our findings support our hypothesis that androgens regulate gene expression in human meibomian gland and conjunctival epithelial cells. Our ongoing studies are designed to determine whether many of these genes are translated and play a role in the health and well being of the eye.