A 0.9 kb DNA fragment carrying the Rhodobacter capsulatus regA gene, which encodes an oxygen-dependent, positively-acting response regulator of photosynthetic gene expression, was used as a probe in Southern hybridisation experiments to determine whether a similar gene occurs in R. sphaeroides. A strongly hybridising DNA fragment isolated from a R. sphaeroides plasmid gene bank was isolated, sequenced and found to contain an open reading frame which exhibits 75% identity with the R. capsulatus regA gene. The deduced amino acid sequence of 184 residues shows 81% identity and 89% similarity with the R. capsulatus RegA protein, and significant similarities with other response regulators of the two component sensor-regulator type. Introduction of the R. sphaeroides gene into a R. capsulatus regA mutant, which exhibits abnormally low levels of membrane-bound photosynthetic complexes, resulted in a 22-33-fold increase in these complexes to approximately 62-65% of wild-type levels. This is the first study to identify a putative response regulator in R. sphaeroides and to complement a regulatory mutation in R. capsulatus with a gene from another species. Further studies of associated genes may identify the different mechanisms by which the regulation of photosynthesis complex formation occurs in response to environmental stimuli in R. sphaeroides and R. capsulatus.