The CREA repressor responsible for carbon catabolite repression in Aspergillus nidulans represses the transcription of the ethanol regulon. The N-terminal part of the CREA protein encompassing the two zinc fingers (C2H2 class family) and an alanine-rich region was expressed in Escherichia coli as a fusion protein with glutathione-S-transferase. Our results show that CREA is a DNA-binding protein able to bind to the promoters of both the specific trans-acting gene, alcR, and of the structural gene, alcA, encoding the alcohol dehydrogenase I. DNase I protection footprinting experiments revealed several specific binding sites in the alcR and in the alcA promoters having the consensus sequence 5'-G/CPyGGGG-3'. The disruption of one of these CREA-binding sites in the alcR promoter overlapping the induction target for the trans-activator ALCR results in a partially derepressed alc phenotype and derepressed alcR transcription, showing that this binding site is functional in vivo. Our data suggest that CREA represses the ethanol regulon by a double lock mechanism repressing both the trans-acting gene, alcR, and the structural gene, alcA.