We have used the globin family of genes in chicken to study developmental regulation of gene expression, both at the level of individual interaction of trans-acting factors with local promoters and enhancers, and at the level of chromatin structure. Regulation of all members of the alpha- and beta-globin clusters is affected by the erythroid regulatory factor GATA-1. Separate mechanisms exist for regulation of individual members of the family. As an example, we describe the control mechanisms that play a role in the expression of the rho-globin gene, which is expressed only in primitive lineage erythroid cells. In addressing the involvement of chromatin structure in gene activation, we have examined the role of locus control elements, and also considered the way in which RNA polymerase molecules might accommodate to the presence of nucleosomes on transcribed genes.