Previous studies have suggested that levels of transcripts for dsrA, a gene encoding a subunit of the dissimilatory sulfite reductase, are not directly related to the rates of sulfate reduction in sediments under all conditions. This phenomenon was further investigated with chemostat-grown Desulfovibrio vulgaris. Under sulfate-limiting conditions, dsrA transcript levels increased as the bulk rates of sulfate reduction in the chemostat increased, but transcript levels were similar at all sulfate reduction rates under electron donor-limiting conditions. When both electron donor- and electron acceptor-limiting conditions were considered, there was a direct correspondence between dsrA transcript levels and the rates of sulfate reduction per cell. These results suggest that dsrA transcript levels may provide important information on the metabolic state of sulfate reducers.