The exact mechanism underlying chronic masticatory myalgia (CMM), a conspicuous symptom in temporomandibular disorders, remains unclear. This investigation compared gene expression profiles between CMM patients and healthy subjects. Peripheral blood leukocytes were collected in 8 cases and 8 controls and subjected to whole genome microarray analyses. Data were analyzed with Gene Ontology and interactive pathways analyses. According to Gene Ontology analysis, categories such as ion transport, response to stimuli, and metabolic process were upregulated. The pathway analysis suggested overexpression of the mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) pathway in CMM patients and to a higher degree in a pathway network. Overexpression of representative members of the MAPK pathway - including MAPK kinase 3 (MEK3), calcium voltage-gated channel auxiliary subunit gamma 2 (CACNG2), and growth arrest and DNA damage-inducible gamma (GADD45G) - was validated with real-time polymerase chain reaction. The upregulation of MEK3 was negatively correlated with the age of the CMM group. In the next step, the authors focused on MEK3, the gene that exhibited the greatest degree of differential expression, and its downstream target protein p38 MAPK. The results revealed upregulation of MEK3, as well as phosphorylated MEK3 and phosphorylated p38 MAPK, in CMM patients. These results provide a "fingerprint" for mechanistic studies of CMM in the future and highlight the importance of MEK3-p38 MAPK activation in CMM. © International & American Associations for Dental Research 2016.