Fire blight, caused by Erwinia amylovora (Ea), is a destructive disease of Malus (apple), Pyrus (pear) and some woody ornamentals in the rose family (Rosaceae). The goal of this project is to use a functional genomics approach to develop tools to breed fire blight resistant apples. Suppression subtractive hybridization (SSH) and cDNA-AFLP analysis were used to identify 650 expressed sequence tags (ESTs) associated with fire blight from Ea-challenged apple leaf tissue. ESTs were ranked for their potential impact on resistance based on bioinformatics and inferences drawn from model systems. Simple sequence repeat (SSR) and single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) markers derived from highly ranked fire blight-associated ESTs were mapped in a 'M.9' × 'Robusta 5' population in which a major QTL for fire blight resistance has been located on Linkage Group 03. Highly ranked fire blight-associated ESTs were mapped to this QTL, as well as to the positions corresponding to the location of at least two QTLs reported in other populations. A secretory class III peroxidase mapped to the LG03 fire blight resistance QTL and a serine/threonine protein kinase mapped at a 4 cM distance. To date, 6 out of 28 candidate fire blight resistance gene markers that have been mapped, have co-located to or near known fire blight resistance QTLs. This research will facilitate new methods of marker-assisted selection to efficiently breed superior apple cultivars with fire blight resistance.