Bacillus subtilis forms dormant spores upon nutrient depletion. Under favorable environmental conditions, the spore breaks its dormancy and resumes growth in a process called spore germination and outgrowth. To elucidate the physiological processes that occur during the transition of the dormant spore to an actively growing vegetative cell, we studied this process in a time-dependent manner by a combination of microscopy, analysis of extracellular metabolites, and a genome-wide analysis of transcription. The results indicate the presence of abundant levels of late sporulation transcripts in dormant spores. In addition, the results suggest the existence of a complex and well-regulated spore outgrowth program, involving the temporal expression of at least 30% of the B. subtilis genome. Copyright © 2007, American Society for Microbiology. All Rights Reserved.