Chalcone synthase (CHS) catalyses the first regulatory step in the branch pathway of phenylpropanoid biosynthesis specific for synthesis of ubiquitous flavonoid pigments and UV protectants. External stimuli such as stress, light and wounding induce CHS expression that is both tissue-specific and under developmental control. In order to identify cis-acting elements involved in organ and tissue specifity, we fused varying parts of the CHS1 promoter of white mustard (Sinapis alba L.) to the GUS-coding region and analysed the expression of these constructs in stably transformed Arabidopsis plants. Two different stages of development were examined, seedlings as an early stage and flowers as the final stage of development. In seedlings, the full-length promoter showed expression in all organs except the hypocotyl; in flowers expression could be observed in all whorls. Unit 1 of the mustard CHS1 promoter, an element conserved in several CHS genes, which has been recently identified as a light responsive element, is able to mediate a tissue-specific expression pattern similar to that obtained with the full-length promoter in seedlings as well as in flowers. Other elements enhance or repress expression in combination with Unit 1, or mediate defined spatial expression independently of Unit 1. One such element, located between -907 and -655, directs expression similar to that of the full-length promoter in flowers but not in seedlings and differs therefore in function to Unit 1. Our data suggest a dominant regulation of CHS1 expression by Unit 1. Other elements within this promoter might interact with Unit 1 or confer a subset of spatial expression patterns when Unit 1 is deleted.