The Chlamydomonas reinhardtii HSP70A promoter can be induced by both heat shock and light. Several characteristics of this promoter suggest its usefulness as a tool for improved transgene expression in this alga. (i) It may by itself confer high inducibility to a transgene. Fusion of the HSP70A promoter to reporter genes HSP70B or ARS yields high levels of transgene product that, as shown for ARS, may accumulate when repeated cycles of heat shock induction are applied. (ii) It activates other promoters. Using HSP70B as a reporter gene, we show that the HSP70A promoter serves as a transcriptional activator when placed upstream of the promoters RBCS2, beta 2 TUB and HSP70B. Activation of these promoters was observed both under basal conditions and upon light induction. In addition, transformation rates obtained for the eubacterial resistance gene aadA were significantly increased, when expression of this gene was controlled by the HSP70A-RBCS2 promoter fusion as compared to the RBCS2 promoter alone.