Comprehensive analysis of the gene expression profiles associated with human monocyte-to-macrophage differentiation and polarization toward M1 or M2 phenotypes led to the following main results: 1) M-CSF-driven monocyte-to-macrophage differentiation is associated with activation of cell cycle genes, substantiating the underestimated proliferation potential of monocytes. 2) M-CSF leads to expression of a substantial part of the M2 transcriptome, suggesting that under homeostatic conditions a default shift toward M2 occurs. 3) Modulation of genes involved in metabolic activities is a prominent feature of macrophage differentiation and polarization. 4) Lipid metabolism is a main category of modulated transcripts, with expected up-regulation of cyclo-oxygenase 2 in M1 cells and unexpected cyclo-oxygenase 1 up-regulation in M2 cells. 5) Each step is characterized by a different repertoire of G protein-coupled receptors, with five nucleotide receptors as novel M2-associated genes. 6) The chemokinome of polarized macrophages is profoundly diverse and new differentially expressed chemokines are reported. Thus, transcriptome profiling reveals novel molecules and signatures associated with human monocyte-to-macrophage differentiation and polarized activation which may represent candidate targets in pathophysiology.