The utilization of ethanol via acetate by the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae requires the presence of the enzyme acetyl-coenzyme A synthetase (acetyl-CoA synthetase), which catalyzes the activation of acetate to acetyl-coenzyme A (acetyl-CoA). We have isolated a mutant, termed acr1, defective for this activity by screening for mutants unable to utilize ethanol as a sole carbon source. Genetic and biochemical characterization show that, in this mutant, the structural gene for acetyl-CoA synthetase is not affected. Cloning and sequencing demonstrated that the ACR1 gene encodes a protein of 321 amino acids with a molecular mass of 35370 Da. Computer analysis suggested that the ACR1 gene product (ACR1) is an integral membrane protein related to the family of mitochondrial carriers. The expression of the gene is induced by growing yeast cells in media containing ethanol or acetate as sole carbon sources and is repressed by glucose. ACR1 is essential for the utilization of ethanol and acetate since a mutant carrying a disruption in this gene is unable to grow on these compounds.