We have used DNaseI and micrococcal nuclease sensitivity assays to determine the chromatin structures in the control regions of the Chlamydomonas reinhardtii HSP70A and RBCS2 genes. Both genes appear to be organized into nucleosome arrays, which exhibit shorter nucleosome repeat lengths than bulk chromatin. In HSP70A we have identified up to four confined DNaseI hypersensitive sites, three of them localize to the promoter region, a fourth one to the fourth intron. Three hypersensitive sites map close to putative heat shock elements, one close to a CCAAT-box. All hypersensitive sites are located to internucleosomal linkers. Alternative nucleosome positions at half-nucleosomal phasing were constitutively detected in the HSP70A promoter region, indicating local chromatin remodelling. Upon heat shock, dramatic changes in the nucleosome structure of HSP70A were detected that particularly affected the promoter, but also a region within the fourth intron. In contrast, light induction entailed no change in HSP70A chromatin. In the RBCS2 control region we identified a strong DNaseI hypersensitive site that maps close to a CCAAT-box. This site forms the boundary of a nucleosome array with a region of approximately 700 bp apparently devoid of nucleosomes. This study demonstrates that chromatin structure may be determined readily at fairly high resolution in Chlamydomonas, suggesting this organism as a well-suited model for studying the role of chromatin structure on gene expression in photosynthetic eukaryotes.