To understand the ecotoxicological impacts of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, field studies provide a context for ecological realism but laboratory-based studies offer power for connecting biological effects with specific causes. As a complement to field studies, we characterized genome-wide gene expression responses of Gulf killifish (Fundulus grandis) to oilcontaminated waters in controlled laboratory exposures. Transcriptional responses to the highest concentrations of oiled water in the laboratory were predictive of field-observed responses that coincided with the timing and location of major oiling. The transcriptional response to the low concentration (,10-fold lower than the high concentration) was distinct from the high concentration and was not predictive of major oiling in the field. The high concentration response was characterized by activation of the molecular signaling pathway that facilitates oil metabolism and oil toxicity. The high concentration also induced DNA damage. The low concentration invoked expression of genes that may support a compensatory response, including genes associated with regulation of transcription, cell cycle progression, RNA processing, DNA damage, and apoptosis. We conclude that the gene expression response detected in the field was a robust indicator of exposure to the toxic components of contaminating oil, that animals in the field were exposed to relatively high concentrations that are especially damaging to early life stages, and that such exposures can damage DNA.