Binding of the Gram-positive pathogenic bacterium Streptococcus pyogenes (group A streptococcus) to respiratory epithelium is mediated by the fibronectin-binding adhesin, protein F. Most strains of streptococci regulate the expression of protein F in response to oxygen levels and redox potential; however, JRS4 constitutively binds high levels of fibronectin under all environmental conditions. In this study, we have examined the regulation of protein F expression in JRS4 using a shuttle mutagenesis strategy novel to S. pyogenes. Cloned DNA representing the chromosomal loci adjacent to the gene which encodes protein F (prtF) was subjected to transposon mutagenesis in Escherichia coli using a derivative of transposon m gamma delta that was modified to contain a streptococcal antibiotic-resistance gene. mutagenized DNA was then returned to the streptococcal chromosome by allelic replacement. Analysis of the resulting fibronectin-binding phenotypes revealed that insertions in a region upstream of prtF abolished the constitutive phenotype. However, these mutants now demonstrated regulation in response to both oxygen levels and redox potential. Because these insertions define a locus responsible for the constitutive phenotype, it has been designated rofA (regulator of F). Chromosomal interruption studies using integrational plasmids together with complementation data from a previous study (VanHeyningen et al., 1993) suggested that rofA acts as a positive trans-acting regulator of prtF. Construction of prtF-lacZ fusions indicated that transcription of prtF is constitutive in JRS4 but is regulated in rofA mutants. Analysis of the DNA sequence defined by the rofA insertions revealed a 1495 bp open reading frame, whose predicted product (RofA) possessed both a putative helix-turn-helix motif and limited homology to two other transcriptional activators (Mry, PrgR) of Gram-positive surface proteins. Sequences homologous to rofA were found in regulated strains of S. pyogenes, which suggests that rofA may act as an activator of prtF in response to an unidentified environmental signal. We speculate that the allele reported here contains a mutation that renders it constitutively active.