Background: Comparative analysis of gene expression profiling of multiple biological categories, such as different species of organisms or different kinds of tissue, promises to enhance the fundamental understanding of the universality as well as the specialization of mechanisms and related biological themes. Grouping genes with a similar expression pattern or exhibiting co-expression together is a starting point in understanding and analyzing gene expression data. In recent literature, gene module level analysis is advocated in order to understand biological network design and system behaviors in disease and life processes; however, practical difficulties often lie in the implementation of existing methods.Results: Using the singular value decomposition (SVD) technique, we developed a new computational tool, named svdPPCS (SVD-based Pattern Pairing and Chart Splitting), to identify conserved and divergent co-expression modules of two sets of microarray experiments. In the proposed methods, gene modules are identified by splitting the two-way chart coordinated with a pair of left singular vectors factorized from the gene expression matrices of the two biological categories. Importantly, the cutoffs are determined by a data-driven algorithm using the well-defined statistic, SVD-p. The implementation was illustrated on two time series microarray data sets generated from the samples of accessory gland (ACG) and malpighian tubule (MT) tissues of the line W118 of M. drosophila. Two conserved modules and six divergent modules, each of which has a unique characteristic profile across tissue kinds and aging processes, were identified. The number of genes contained in these models ranged from five to a few hundred. Three to over a hundred GO terms were over-represented in individual modules with FDR < 0.1. One divergent module suggested the tissue-specific relationship between the expressions of mitochondrion-related genes and the aging process. This finding, together with others, may be of biological significance. The validity of the proposed SVD-based method was further verified by a simulation study, as well as the comparisons with regression analysis and cubic spline regression analysis plus PAM based clustering.Conclusions: svdPPCS is a novel computational tool for the comparative analysis of transcriptional profiling. It especially fits the comparison of time series data of related organisms or different tissues of the same organism under equivalent or similar experimental conditions. The general scheme can be directly extended to the comparisons of multiple data sets. It also can be applied to the integration of data sets from different platforms and of different sources. © 2010 Zhang et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.