The gua promoter (guaP) of Escherichia coli resembles those for ribosomal RNA (rrn) operons and lies in a close back-to-back arrangement with the promoter for xseA (xseP). Transcription from guaP is subject to stringent control and growth-rate-dependent regulation, and to repression by DnaA and PurR. In addition, transcription from guaP is regulated by the cyclic AMP receptor protein (CRP). Plasmid-borne promoter fusions to the receptor gene for chloramphenicol acetyl transferase were used to assess the role of CRP in controlling transcription from guaP and xseP following a downshift of cultures from rich into minimal medium. CRP is required to activate guaBA transcription and repress xseA transcription following downshift. Bandshift assays with a DNA fragment carrying the divergent promoters revealed specific binding of CRP. We propose that CRP, binding to a near-consensus site centred at -117.5, activates transcription from guaP and obstructs transcription from the xseA promoter.