The high fat content in Western diets probably affects placental function during pregnancy with potential consequences for the offspring in the short and long term. The aim of the present study was to compare genome-wide placental gene expression between rat dams fed a high-fat diet (HFD) and those fed a control diet for 3 weeks before conception and during gestation. Gene expression was measured by microarray and pathway analysis was performed. Gene expression differences were replicated by real-time PCR and protein expression was assessed by Western blot analysis. Placental and fetal weights at E17.25 were not altered by exposure to the maternal HFD. Gene pathways targeting placental growth, blood supply and chemokine signalling were up-regulated in the placentae of dams fed the HFD. The up-regulation in messenger RNA expression for five genes Ptgs2 (fatty acid cyclo-oxidase 2; COX2), Limk1 (LIM domain kinase 1), Pla2g2a (phospholipase A2), Itga1 (integrin α-1) and Serpine1 was confirmed by real-time PCR. Placental protein expression for COX2 and LIMK was also increased in HFD-fed dams. In conclusion, maternal HFD feeding alters placental gene expression patterns of placental growth and blood supply and specifically increases the expression of genes involved in arachidonic acid and PG metabolism. These changes indicate a placental response to the altered maternal metabolic environment.