Understanding of seed ageing, which leads to viability loss during storage, is vital for ex situ plant conservation and agriculture alike. Yet the potential for regulation at the transcriptional level has not been fully investigated. Here, we studied the relationship between seed viability, gene expression and glutathione redox status during artificial ageing of pea ( Pisum sativum) seeds. Transcriptome-wide analysis using microarrays was complemented with qRT-PCR analysis of selected genes and a multilevel analysis of the antioxidant glutathione. Partial degradation of DNA and RNA occurred from the onset of artificial ageing at 60% RH and 50°C, and transcriptome profiling showed that the expression of genes associated with programmed cell death, oxidative stress and protein ubiquitination were altered prior to any sign of viability loss. After 25 days of ageing viability started to decline in conjunction with progressively oxidising cellular conditions, as indicated by a shift of the glutathione redox state towards more positive values (>−190 mV). The unravelling of the molecular basis of seed ageing revealed that transcriptome reprogramming is a key component of the ageing process, which influences the progression of programmed cell death and decline in antioxidant capacity that ultimately lead to seed viability loss.