Many Clostridium species are pathogenic for humans and animals, and most of the resulting diseases, such as tetanus, botulism, gas gangrene and pseudomembranous colitis, are due to the production of potent extracellular toxins. The biochemical mechanisms of action of Clostridium toxins have been extensively studied in the past ten years. However, detailed information about the regulation of toxin gene expression has only recently emerged. TcdR, BotR, TetR and UviA are now known to be related alternative RNA polymerase sigma factors that drive transcription of toxin A and toxin B genes in C. difficile, the neurotoxin genes in C. botulinum and C. tetani, and a bacteriocin gene in C. perfringens. Although the Clostridium sigma factors have some similarity to members of the ECF sigma factor group, they differ sufficiently in structure and function so that they have been assigned to a new group within the sigma(70)-family.