Previous work has indicated that the RhaS protein directly activates the L-rhamnose catabolic operon, rhaBAD, and that the likely RhaS binding site lies downstream of position -84 relative to the rhaBAD transcription start point. Biochemical analysis of RhaS binding to this DNA site had not been possible due to the extreme insolubility of overproduced RhaS protein. Here we have been able to analyze directly the DNA binding properties of RhaS by developing a method to refold insoluble RhaS protein into a form with specific DNA binding activity. We found that active RhaS protein could be recovered only if the renaturation reaction was performed in the presence of DNA. We also found that the recovery of DNA-binding activity from the related AraC protein, after denaturation in urea, was dependent upon added DNA. To test the specificity of the recovered RhaS DNA-binding activity, and to define the binding site for comparison with other AraC family binding sites, we then investigated the details of the RhaS binding site. Using refolded RhaS protein in a DNase footprinting assay, we found that RhaS protects a region of the rhaBAD promoter from position -83 to -28. Analysis of the effects of single base mutations in the rhaBAD promoter region indicates that RhaS binds to an inverted repeat of two 17 bp half-sites separated by 16 bp, located between -81 and -32 relative to the rhaBAD transcription start site.