A 2116bp segment of the bacteriophage T4 genome encompassing the motA regulatory gene has been sequenced. In addition to motA, five open reading frames were identified in the direction of early transcription. The motA gene encodes a basic protein of 211 amino acids with a predicted molecular weight of 23,559. Measurements of the rate of transcription of motA showed that the promoter of this gene is turned off after only 2 min of T4 development. This early promoter presents a structure which is richer in information than that of a classical constitutive Escherichia coli promoter. In addition to containing conserved sequences centred at -10 and -35, this promoter shares extensive homologies with other subgroups of early promoters in regions centred at +3 and at -55. We discuss the possible role of these different sequence determinants.