In order to analyze expression of the maize alcohol dehydrogenase 1 gene (Adh1), its promoter was fused with the gusA reporter gene and introduced into rice by protoplast transformation. Histochemical analysis of transgenic plants and their progeny showed that the maize Adh1 promoter is constitutively expressed in root caps, anthers, anther filaments, pollen, scutellum, endosperm and shoot and root meristem of the embryo. Induction of expression by the Adh1 promoter was examined using seedlings derived from selfed progeny of the transgenic plants. The results showed that expression of the Adh1 promoter was strongly induced (up to 81-fold) in roots of seedlings after 24 h of anaerobic treatment, concomitant with an increase in the level of gusA mRNA. 2,4-D also induced Adh1 promoter-directed expression of gusA to a similar extent. In contrast, little induction by anaerobic treatment was detected in transformed calli, leaves or roots of primary transformants or shoots of seedlings. A detailed examination of seedling roots during anaerobic treatment revealed that the induction started first at the meristem and after 3 h there was strong induction in the elongation zone which is located 1-2 mm above the meristem; the induction then progressed upward from this region. Our results suggest that transgenic rice plants carrying the gusA reporter gene fused with promoters are useful for the study of anaerobic regulation of genes derived from graminaceous species.