The DNA region upstream of katG in Mycobacterium smegmatis was cloned and sequenced. The furA gene, highly homologous to Mycobacterium tuberculosis furA, mapped in this region. The furA-katG organization appears to be conserved among several mycobacteria. The transcription pattern of furA and katG in M. smegmatis upon oxidative stress was analyzed by Northern blotting and primer extension. Although transcription of both furA and katG was induced upon oxidative stress, transcripts covering both genes could not be identified either by Northern blotting or by reverse transcriptase PCR. Specific transcripts and 5' ends were identified for furA and katG, respectively. By cloning M. smegmatis and M. tuberculosis DNA regions upstream of a reporter gene, we demonstrated the presence of two promoters, pfurA, located immediately upstream of the furA gene, and pkatG, located within the terminal part of the furA coding sequence. Transcription from pfurA was induced upon oxidative stress. A 23-bp sequence overlapping the pfurA -35 region is highly conserved among mycobacteria and streptomycetes and might be involved in controlling pfurA activity. Transcription from a cloned pkatG, lacking the upstream pfurA region, was not induced upon oxidative stress, suggesting a cis-acting regulatory role of this region.