A number of molecular methods of gene expression analysis can approach genomic level. Among those, Serial Analysis of Gene Expression (SAGE) stands out. Unlike many other techniques, SAGE allows both qualitative and quantitative analysis of previously unknown transcripts. Over the course of the last 13 years, SAGE has became a recognized tool of large-scale gene expression profiling, being used extensively in human, animal, yeast and plant studies of various nature. A number of important adaptations was introduced both to the protocol of SAGE library construction and to the analytical algorithm employed. Moreover, some variations of the original protocol (MAGE, SADE, microSAGE, miniSAGE, longSAGE, superSAGE, deepSAGE, etc.) were derived to improve the utility of SAGE in certain conditions. Current review aims comparing the benefits and drawbacks of the techniques for high-throughput gene expression analysis (including SAGE) in a realistic, balanced manner. Issues related to modifications to the original protocol and further development of the SAGE are discussed.