The gene encoding GcvA, the trans-acting regulatory protein for the Escherichia coli glycine cleavage enzyme system, has been sequenced. The gcvA locus contains an open reading frame of 930 nucleotides that could encode a protein with a molecular mass of 34.4 kDa, consistent with the results of minicell analysis indicating that GcvA is a polypeptide of approximately 33 kDa. The deduced amino acid sequence of GcvA revealed that this protein shares similarity with the LysR family of activator proteins. The transcription start site was found to be 72 bp upstream of the presumed translation start site. A chromosomal deletion of gcvA resulted in the inability of cells to activate the expression of a gcvT-lacZ gene fusion when grown in the presence of glycine and an inability to repress gcvT-lacZ expression when grown in the presence of inosine. The regulation of gcvA was examined by constructing a gcvA-lacZ gene fusion in which beta-galactosidase synthesis is under the control of the gcvA regulatory region. Although gcvA expression appears to be autogenously regulated over a two- to threefold range, it is neither induced by glycine nor repressed by inosine.