Background Cucumber Fusarium wilt, caused by Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. cucumerinum (Foc), is one of the most notorious diseases in cucumber production. Our previous research showed the virulence of Foc significantly increases over consecutive rounds of infection in a resistant cultivar. To understand the virulence variation of Foc under host pressure, the mildly virulent strain foc-3b (WT) and its virulence-enhanced variant Ra-4 (InVir) were selected and their transcriptome profiles in infected cucumber roots were analyzed at 24â h after inoculation (hai) and 120â hai. Results A series of differentially expressed genes (DEGs) potentially involved in fungal pathogenicity and pathogenicity variation were identified and prove mainly involved in metabolic, transport, oxidation-reduction, cell wall degradation, macromolecules modification, and stress and defense. Among these DEGs, 190 up- and 360 down-regulated genes were expressed in both strains, indicating their importance in Foc infection. Besides, 286 and 366 DEGs showed up-regulated expression, while 492 and 214 showed down-regulated expression in InVir at 24 and 120â hai, respectively. These DEGs may be involved in increased virulence. Notably, transposases were more active in InVir than WT, indicating transposons may contribute to adaptive evolution. Conclusions By a comparative transcriptome analysis of the mildly and highly virulent strains of Foc during infection of cucumber, a series of DEGs were identified that may be associated with virulence. Hence, this study provides new insight into the transcriptomic profile underlying pathogenicity and virulence differentiation of Foc.