Transcription of the mat1-Pm gene of Schizosaccharomyces pombe controlling entry into meiosis is stimulated by the mating pheromone, M-factor. We have studied its expression by monitoring beta-galactosidase activity in cells carrying a plasmid-borne mat1-Pm/lacZ fusion construct. Stimulation required the M-factor receptor (Map3) and other proteins (Gpa1, Byr1, Byr2 and Spk1) thought to be involved in propagating the pheromone signal within the cell. Mutational activation of gpa1 encoding an alpha subunit of the receptor-coupled heterotrimeric G protein causes full expression of mat1-Pm even in the absence of pheromone, suggesting that Gpa1 is a key signal transmitter. Furthermore, an activated ras1val17 mutant exhibited a much stronger level of induction than wild-type cells, though full expression needs M-factor treatment. Deletion analysis of the mat1-Pm promoter region identified a stretch of 21 bp that is shown to play a critical role in controlling expression. This region lies just upstream of a TATA-like box and contains a TR-box (TTCTTTGTTY) motif which is the recognition site of a putative transcription factor Ste11. Point mutations in the TR-box motif abolished the expression of mat1-Pm/lacZ. Almost no expression of mat1-Pm was detected in a ste11 deletion mutant, whereas overproduction of Ste11 greatly increased the expression.