The temporal and spatial expression of stage-specific genes during morphological development of fungi and higher eukaryotes is controlled by transcription factors. In this study, we report the cloning and functional analysis of the Candida albicans TEC1 (CaTEC1) gene, a new member of the TEA/ATTS family of transcription factors that regulates C. albicans virulence. The promoters of the type 4, 5 and 6 proteinase isogenes (SAP4-6) contain repetitive TEA/ATTS consensus sequence motifs. This finding suggests a possible role for a homologue of Saccharomyces cerevisiae TEC1 during the activation of proteinase gene expression in C. albicans. CaTEC1 is predominantly expressed in the hyphal form of C. albicans. In vitro, serum-induced hyphal formation as well as evasion from MPhi after phagocytosis is suppressed in catec1/catec1 mutant cells. Furthermore, expression of the proteinase isogenes SAP4-6 is no longer inducible in these mutant cells. The deletion of the CaTEC1 gene attenuates virulence of C. albicans in a systemic model of murine candidiasis, although both mutant and revertant cells that were prepared from infected tissues or the vaginal mucosa grew in a hyphal morphology in vivo. CaTEC1 complements the pseudohyphal and invasive growth defect of haploid and diploid S. cerevisiae tec1/tec1 mutant cells and strongly activates the promoter of FLO11, a gene required for pseudohyphal growth. This study provides the first evidence pointing to an essential role for a member of the TEA/ATTS transcription factor family that had so far only been ascribed to function during development as a virulence regulator in microbial pathogenesis.