Pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) is a serious disease characterized by elevated pulmonary artery pressure, inflammatory cell infiltration and pulmonary vascular remodeling. However, little is known about the pathogenic mechanisms underlying the disease onset and progression. RNA sequencing (RNA-seq) was used to identify the transcriptional profiling in control and rats injected with monocrotaline (MCT) for 1, 2, 3 and 4 weeks. A total of 23200 transcripts and 280, 1342, 908 and 3155 differentially expressed genes (DEGs) were identified at the end of week 1, 2, 3 and 4, of which Svop was the common top 10 DEGs over the course of PAH progression. Functional enrichment analysis of DEGs showed inflammatory/immune response occurred in the early stage of PAH development. KEGG pathway enrichment analysis of DEGs showed that cytokine-cytokine receptor interaction and neuroactive ligand-receptor interaction were in the initiation and progression of PAH. Further analysis revealed impaired expression of cholinergic receptors, adrenergic receptors including alpha1, beta1 and beta2 receptor, and dysregulated expression of γ-aminobutyric acid receptors. In summary, the dysregulated inflammation/immunity and neuroactive ligand receptor signaling pathways may be involved in the onset and progression of PAH.