Despite being one of the first eukaryotic transcriptional regulatory elements identified, the sequence of a native TATA box and its significance remain elusive. Applying criteria associated with TATA boxes we queried several Saccharomyces genomes and arrived at the consensus TATA(A/T)A(A/T)(A/G). Approximately 20% of yeast genes contain a TATA box. Strikingly, TATA box-containing genes are associated with responses to stress, are highly regulated, and preferentially utilize SAGA rather than TFIID when compared to TATA-less promoters. Transcriptional regulation in yeast appears to be mechanistically bipolar, possibly reflecting a need to balance inducible stress-related responses with constitutive housekeeping functions.