We have analysed the expression of the 8-10 members of the gene family encoding the flavonoid biosynthetic enzyme chalcone synthase (CHS) from Petunia hybrida. During normal plant development only two members of the gene family (CHS-A and CHS-J) are expressed. Their expression is restricted to floral tissues mainly. About 90% of the total CHS mRNA pool is transcribed from CHS-A, wheares CHS-J delivers about 10% in flower corolla, tube and anthers. Expression of CHS-A and CHS-J during flower development is coordinated and (red) light-dependent. In young seedlings and cell suspension cultures expression of CHS-A and CHS-J can be induced with UV light. In addition to CHS-A and CHS-J, expression of another two CHS genes (CHS-B and CHS-G) is induced in young seedlings by UV light, albeit at a low level. In contrast to CHS genes from Leguminoseae, Petunia CHS genes are not inducible by phytopathogen-derived elicitors. Expression of CHS-A and CHS-J is reduced to a similar extent in a regulatory CHS mutant, Petunia hybrida Red Star, suggesting that both genes are regulated by the same trans-acting factors. Comparison of the promoter sequences of CHS-A and CHS-J reveals some striking homologies, which might represent cis-acting regulatory sequences.