A codon-profile strategy was used to predict gene expression levels in Streptococcus pneumoniae. Predicted highly expressed (PHE) genes included those encoding glycolytic and fermentative enzymes, sugar-conversion systems and carbohydrate-transporters. Additionally, some genes required for infection that are involved in oxidative metabolism and hydrogen peroxide production were PHE. Low expression values were predicted for genes encoding specific regulatory proteins like two-component systems and competence genes. Correspondence analysis localized 484 ORFs which shared a distinctive codon profile in the right horn. These genes had a mean G + C content (33.4 %) that was lower than the bulk of the genome coding sequences (39.7 %), suggesting that many of them were acquired by horizontal transfer. Half of these genes (242) were pseudogenes, ORFs shorter than 80 codons or without assigned function. The remaining genes included several virulence factors, such as capsular genes, iga, lytB, nanB, pspA, choline-binding proteins, and functions related to DNA acquisition, such as restriction-modification systems and comDE. In order to compare predicted translation rate with the relative amounts of mRNA for each gene, the codon adaptation index (CAI) values were compared with microarray fluorescence intensity values following hybridization of labelled RNA from laboratory-grown cultures. High mRNA amounts were observed in 32.5 % of PHE genes and in 64 % of the 25 genes with the highest CAI values. However, high relative amounts of RNA were also detected in 10.4 % of non-PHE genes, such as those encoding fatty acid metabolism enzymes and proteases, suggesting that their expression might also be regulated at the level of transcription or mRNA stability under the conditions tested. The effects of codon bias and mRNA amount on different gene groups in S. pneumoniae are discussed.