BACKGROUND : Brassica napus L. has little or no primary dormancy, but exhibits great variation in secondary dormancy. Secondary dormancy potential in oilseed rape can lead to the emergence of volunteer plants that cause genetic contamination, reduced quality and biosafety issues. However, the mechanisms underlying secondary dormancy are poorly understood. In this study, cultivars Huaiyou-WSD-H2 (H) and Huaiyou-SSD-V1 (V), which exhibit low (approximately 5%) and high (approximately 95%) secondary dormancy rate, respectively, were identified. Four samples, before (Hb and Vb) and after (Ha and Va) secondary dormancy induction by polyethylene glycol (PEG), were collected to identify the candidate genes involved in secondary dormancy via comparative transcriptome profile analysis. RESULTS : A total of 998 differentially expressed genes (DEGs), which are mainly involved in secondary metabolism, transcriptional regulation, protein modification and signaling pathways, were then detected. Among these DEGs, the expression levels of those involved in the sulfur-rich indole glucosinolate (GLS)-linked auxin biosynthesis pathway were markedly upregulated in the dormant seeds (Va), which were validated by qRT-PCR and subsequently confirmed via detection of altered concentrations of indole-3-acetic acid (IAA), IAA conjugates and precursors. Furthermore, exogenous IAA applications to cultivar H enhanced secondary dormancy. CONCLUSIONS : This study first (to our knowledge) elucidated that indole GLS-linked auxin biosynthesis is enhanced during secondary dormancy induced by PEG, which provides valuable information concerning secondary dormancy and expands the current understanding of the role of auxin in rapeseed.