The expression of certain genes involved in fundamental metabolism is regulated by metabolite-binding "riboswitch" elements embedded within their corresponding mRNAs. We have identified at least six additional elements within the Bacillus subtilis genome that exhibit characteristics of riboswitch function (glmS, gcvT, ydaO/yuaA, ykkC/yxkD, ykoK, and yybP/ykoY). These motifs exhibit extensive sequence and secondary-structure conservation among many bacterial species and occur upstream of related genes. The element located upstream of the glmS gene in Gram-positive organisms functions as a metabolite-dependent ribozyme that responds to glucosamine-6-phosphate. Other motifs form complex folded structures when transcribed as RNA molecules and carry intrinsic terminator structures. These findings indicate that riboswitches serve as a major genetic regulatory mechanism for the control of metabolic genes in many microbial species.