Although promoter regions for many plant nuclear genes have been sequenced, identification of the active promoter sequence has been carried out only for the octopine synthase promoter. That analysis was of callus tissue and made use of an enzyme assay. We have analysed the effects of 5' deletions in a plant viral promoter in tobacco callus as well as in regenerated plants, including different plant tissues. We assayed the RNA transcription product which allows a more direct assessment of deletion effects. The cauliflower mosaic virus (CaMV) 35S promoter provides a model plant nuclear promoter system, as its double-strand DNA genome is transcribed by host nuclear RNA polymerase II from a CaMV minichromosome. Sequences extending to -46 were sufficient for accurate transcription initiation whereas the region between -46 and -105 increased greatly the level of transcription. The 35S promoter showed no tissue-specificity of expression.