Sexual differentiation of Chlamydomonas reinhardtii is induced by the consecutive action of two extrinsic cues--nitrogen deprivation and blue light. The definition of a blue light-dependent step in gamete formation provided a basis for the isolation of mutants altered in the signal transduction pathway by which light controls sexual differentiation. In one mutant (lrg1), gamete formation has become light independent. In the other mutant (lrg2), perception or transduction of the light signal appears to be partially impaired. In both mutants, the expression of genes activated by light in the late phase of gamete formation is affected. Genetic analyses showed that genes LRG1 and LRG2 are linked. The recessive nature of the lrg1-1 mutation implies that the gene encodes a negative factor or a protein that controls the activity of a negative factor. In the case of lrg2-1, neither wild-type nor mutant allele was dominant. Rather, two copies of the lrg2-1 gene simulate a wild-type phenotype. The identification of genetic loci in the pathway for blue light-mediated differentiation provides a basis for the isolation of signal transduction genes in Chlamydomonas.