SUMMARY The obligately biotrophic rust fungi are dependent on nutrient supply from their host plants. A cDNA library of infection structures of the rust fungus Uromyces fabae was used to identify a gene (UfAAT3) that encodes a protein with a high degree of sequence similarity to fungal amino acid permeases. The expression profile revealed by RT-PCR shows an up-regulation very early during rust development, with the highest level in haustoria and infected leaves. Heterologous expression of UfAAT3p in Xenopus oocytes revealed an amino acid permease energized by co-transport with protons and exhibiting a broad substrate specificity. Compared to the previously described U. fabae amino acid transporter (AAT1), which represented the highest transport activities for lysine and histidine, electrophysiological measurements with cRNA of UfAAT3-injected oocytes showed substrate preferences for leucine and the sulphur containing amino acids methionine and cysteine. The unique contribution of the amino acid permeases and their substrate affinities might be connected with the availability of amino acids in the leaf tissue. Thus, in order to compare the substrate profiles of AAT1p and UfAAT3p with the natural environment of U. fabae we analysed the amino acid concentration in the apoplastic space, in addition to that in extracts of Vicia faba leaves. The predominant free amino acids were asparagine, alanine, glutamine and glutamate. However, most amino acids were present at low concentrations (between 0.02 and 0.16 mm), including the preferred substrates of the U. fabae amino acid permeases AAT1p and UfAAT3p.