To establish a genetic system for dissection of light-mediated signal transduction in plants, we analyzed the light wavelengths and promoter sequences responsible for the light-induced expression of the Arabidopsis thaliana chalcone synthase (CHS) promoter fused to the beta-glucuronidase (GUS) marker gene. Transgenic A. thaliana lines carrying 1975, 523, 186, and 17 bp of the CHS promoter fused to the GUS gene were generated, and the expression of these chimeric genes was monitored in response to high intensity light in mature plants and to different wavelengths of light in seedlings. Fusion constructs containing 1975 and 523 bp of CHS promoter sequence behaved identically to the endogenous CHS gene under all conditions. Expression of these constructs was induced specifically in response to high intensity white light and blue light. The response to blue light was seen in the presence of the Pfr form of phytochrome. Fusion constructs containing 186 bp of promoter sequence showed reduced basal levels of expression and only weak stimulation by blue light but were induced significantly by high intensity white light. These analyses showed that the expression of the A. thaliana CHS gene is responsive to a specific blue light receptor and that sequences between -523 and -186 bp are required for optimal basal and blue light-induced expression of this gene. The experiments lay the foundation for a simple genetic screen for light response mutants.