The function of the LysR-type regulator LrhA of Escherichia coli was defined by comparing whole-genome mRNA profiles from wild-type E. coli and an isogenic lrhA mutant on a DNA microarray. In the lrhA mutant, a large number (48) of genes involved in flagellation, motility and chemotaxis showed relative mRNA abundances increased by factors between 3 and 80. When a representative set of five flagellar, motility and chemotaxis genes was tested in lacZ reporter gene fusions, similar factors for derepression were found in the lrhA mutant. In gel retardation experiments, the LrhA protein bound specifically to flhD and lrhA promoter DNA (apparent K(D) approximately 20 nM), whereas the promoters of fliC, fliA and trg were not bound by LrhA. The expression of flhDC (encoding FlhD(2)C(2)) was derepressed by a factor of 3.5 in the lrhA mutant. FlhD(2)C(2) is known as the master regulator for the expression of flagellar and chemotaxis genes. By DNase I footprinting, LrhA binding sites at the flhDC and lrhA promoters were identified. The lrhA gene was under positive autoregulation by LrhA as shown by gel retardation and lrhA expression studies. It is suggested that LrhA is a key regulator controlling the transcription of flagellar, motility and chemotaxis genes by regulating the synthesis and concentration of FlhD(2)C(2).