Malaria parasites switch to sexual development after a period of vegetative growth in the host's erythrocytes. This switch, vital for parasite transmission to mosquitoes, is little understood at the genetic level. Likely candidates for developmental control are the alpha- and beta-tubulin subunits required for microtubule assembly. We report here that the transcription of the alpha- and beta-tubulin genes in Plasmodium falciparum show a radically different pattern of transcription in the sexual and sexual phases of parasite growth. Our studies lead to the conclusion that three transcripts of the beta-tubulin gene differ by sequences in their 5'- or 3'-untranslated regions.